TRAI releases consultation paper on OTT sector, expanding its definition

TRAI had earlier issued a consultation paper on Regulatory Framework for OTT services in March 2015, which also highlighted the issue of net neutrality, among other issues


The Telecom and Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on Over-the-top (OTT) services seeking to expand the definition of the sector and also the regulator’s jurisdiction over a sector which has been so far “unregulated”, according to news reports.

Some of the questions covered in the paper included if inter-operability among OTT services and also inter-operability of their services with TSPs services would promote competition and benefit users? And, what measures, if any, should be taken to promote such competition?

TRAI had earlier issued a consultation paper on Regulatory Framework for OTT services in March 2015, which also highlighted the issue of net neutrality, the reasonableness of traffic management practices, non-price based discrimination of services and transparency requirements.

However, due to the volume of issues and their complexity, TRAI has decided to address them separately and focus on the important issues.

The following actions have been taken accordingly:

  • TRAI issued regulations on the Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016.
  • Recommendations on provisioning free data given to the Government on the 19th December 2016
  • Recommendations on Net Neutrality to the Government on 28th November 2018
  • Recommendations on privacy, security, and data ownership issues in the telecom sector submitted to the Government on 16th July 2018
  • Questions relating to the potential market failures in each segment, the relevant tools to address those failures and the costs and benefits of any possible regulatory interventions have also been investigated

Keeping in mind the rapidly evolving sector, the authority will also examine OTI related aspects, after taking into consideration the changes that have taken place since March 2015.

This consultation paper aims to analyse and discuss the implications of the growth of OTIs, the relationship between OTI players and TSPs, the similarities, if any, between services provided by the TSPs and OTIs, necessary changes to the existing regulatory framework to govern these entities, and the manner in which these changes should be implemented. Information collected byTRAI in response to previous consultations has been used in preparation of this consultation paper.

However, it should be noted that the present consultation is not intended to revisit regulations or recommendations given by the Authority earlier on OTI, which had broader implications and were therefore concluded first following due consultation and diligence.

Comment on the issues raised in the consultation paper are invited from stakeholders by 10th December 2018 and counter comments, if, any by 24th December 2018

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