TRAI to reduce regulations on WhatsApp, Skype as data consumption rises

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has determined to reduce the regulatory measures on excessive (OTT) providers like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber. The growth comes as the Telecom operators within the nation, who as soon as complained of the regulatory imbalance by the Telecom regulator, at the moment are seeing an increase of their revenues owing to the elevated data consumption on their networks due to the usage of such apps.

Back in 2015, TRAI had floated a floated a paper in search of views on whether or not the OTT providers needs to be introduced beneath the purview of the licensing regime and whether or not the expansion of OTT providers was affecting the income stream of Telecom operators within the nation.

At the time, telcos had reiterated their demand of bringing the OTT providers beneath the purview of regulations saying that these providers had been consuming up the income of the Telecom operators within the nation. The service suppliers and business our bodies on the time had argued that the OTT gamers utilised the underlying infrastructure of the telecos and never solely made cash from their providers but in addition competed with the voice providers provided by the telecos.

But now, the operators are saying that the situation has modified and that the elevated data consumption by the OTT apps helps the Telecom operators earn income. “We have reduced the scope of that paper. We have already issued recommendations on net neutrality and previously on differential pricing. Now, very few issues are left with respect to OTT. We have to look at regulatory imbalance (with respect to Telecom operators). But Telecom operators themselves are saying that OTTs are helping data consumption,” mentioned a senior TRAI official informed LiveMint.

The TRAI official mentioned that Telecom operators at the moment are blissful that data consumption is going on by way of providers like WhatsApp. “WhatsApp calls ride on data and cost very little in terms of data usage. In any case, most Telecom operators are giving unlimited free voice calls. So the arbitrage opportunities are reducing day by day,” the official added.

Meanwhile, business our bodies are nonetheless demanding the OTT providers to be introduced beneath the regulatory regime. “It is true the issue around revenue loss has reduced with most operators offering free voice calls. Operators do earn revenue from data being consumed, but they also have to make significant investments on their networks to be able to carry these huge amounts of data. We want same service same rule,” Rajan Mathews, director basic, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) informed the publication.

Notably, this would be the second time that the regulatory physique will ponder over its determination of bringing the OTT providers beneath the regulatory regime.

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