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TRAI for bringing Value Added Service Providers under licensing regime

30-May-2008
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TRAI for bringing Value Added Service Providers under licensing regime

TRAI has released a consultation paper on growth of value added services and regulatory issues. The consultation paper focuses on the approach for the growth, regulatory guidelines and terms and conditions in respect of licensing and provisioning of value added services, and also raises the issue of whether content providers or aggregators, called Value Added Service Providers, should be brought under the licensing regime.

TRAI, while acknowledging the growth potential of Value Added Services in India, lashed out at the lack of proper process or code of practice and the mounting need to harmonise the regulatory framework so as to roll out a uniform growth of value added services in all segments.

Some of the key issues that TRAI addressed in the consultation paper comprises the need to bring uniformity in the licensing conditions of mobile telecom operators, the need to include Value Added Service Providers under the licensing regime, importance of allocating short codes for value added services to guarantee uniformity amongst all the telecom operators and the obligation of protecting copyrights.

TRAI also discussed other set of issues like exploring the scope of license and other terms and conditions for licensing mobile value added services, including new/enhanced services in 3G, Next Generation Network (NGN) Environment and the need of assuring transparency in revenue share Model in Mobile Value Added Services Value Chain.

In India, the estimated revenue generated from mobile Value Added Services is over 10-14 per cent of the total revenue of mobile telecom service providers and is expected to cross 30 per cent of the mobile telecom service provider’s revenue in the next 5-7 years according to various studies/position papers, said TRAI.

The regulator has also raised issues regarding licensing obligations towards protection if copyrights, including digital rights management, and infringement of other laws. TRAI said, “In such cases (the Blackberry case), a licensing and appropriate regulatory regime will provide clarity and the telecom operator need to source the content for VAS from authorised, licensed or registered content aggregators in India.” At present, an operator has to intimate the licensor and TRAI at least 15 days before launching the service.

TRAI has requested the stakeholders to send their comments by June 30.

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