On 27th March 2015, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India came out with a consultation paper titled “Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services”. According to TRAI, “The best known examples of OTT are Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Chat On, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik, Google Talk, Hike, Line, WeChat, Tango, ecommerce sites (Amazon, Flipkart etc.),Ola, Facebook messenger, Black Berry Messenger, iMessage, online video games and movies (Netflix, Pandora). ”
As you can understand, considering regulating these services is tantamount to regulating most of the popular Internet.
TRAI has raised the following questions for consultation. We would love to give them a response that represents the views of our friends. We are therefore inviting everyone to
1. Read the paper here – http://trai.gov.in/WriteReaddata/ConsultationPaper/Document/OTT-CP-27032015.pdf or a simplified version by MediaNama here – http://www.medianama.com/2015/03/223-should-india-have-licensing-of-internet-services-net-neutrality-trai-wants-your-views
2. Ask questions – you can write to arjun at mojolab dot org or reach us via Facebook or Twitter or any other way you like to ask questions. You can also comment on this post or Medianama’s. We will try and answer as best as we can.
3. After you’re done thinking, give us your responses on the following questions as briefly as you can. We will share your responses and try and get a representative response back to TRAI. We’re also looking to find friends who will help get responses back .
And we have to do all this before April 25th, because that’s when they stop listening!
Question 1: Is it too early to establish a regulatory framework for
OTT services, since internet penetration is still evolving, access
speeds are generally low and there is limited coverage of high-speed
broadband in the country? Or, should some beginning be made now
with a regulatory framework that could be adapted to changes in the
future? Please comment with justifications.
Question 2: Should the OTT players offering communication
services (voice, messaging and video call services) through
applications (resident either in the country or outside) be brought
under the licensing regime? Please comment with justifications.
Question 3: Is the growth of OTT impacting the traditional revenue
stream of TSPs? If so, is the increase in data revenues of the TSPs
sufficient to compensate for this impact? Please comment with
Question 4: Should the OTT players pay for use of the TSPs network
over and above data charges paid by consumers? If yes, what pricing
options can be adopted? Could such options include prices based on
bandwidth consumption? Can prices be used as a means of
product/service differentiation? Please comment with justifications.
Question 5: Do you agree that imbalances exist in the regulatory
environment in the operation of OTT players? If so, what should be
the framework to address these issues? How can the prevailing laws
and regulations be applied to OTT players (who operate in the 114
virtual world) and compliance enforced? What could be the impact
on the economy? Please comment with justifications.
Question 6: How should the security concerns be addressed with
regard to OTT players providing communication services? What
security conditions such as maintaining data records, logs etc. need
to be mandated for such OTT players? And, how can compliance
with these conditions be ensured if the applications of such OTT
players reside outside the country? Please comment with
Question 7: How should the OTT players offering app services
ensure security, safety and privacy of the consumer? How should
they ensure protection of consumer interest? Please comment with
Question 8: In what manner can the proposals for a regulatory
framework for OTTs in India draw from those of ETNO, referred to in
para 4.23 or the best practices summarised in para 4.29? And, what
practices should be proscribed by regulatory fiat? Please comment
Question 9: What are your views on net-neutrality in the Indian
context? How should the various principles discussed in para 5.47
be dealt with? Please comment with justifications.
Question 10: What forms of discrimination or traffic management
practices are reasonable and consistent with a pragmatic approach?
What should or can be permitted? Please comment with
Question 11: Should the TSPs be mandated to publish various traffic
management techniques used for different OTT applications? Is this
a sufficient condition to ensure transparency and a fair regulatory
Question 12: How should the conducive and balanced environment
be created such that TSPs are able to invest in network
infrastructure and CAPs are able to innovate and grow? Who should
bear the network upgradation costs? Please comment with
Question 13: Should TSPs be allowed to implement non-price based
discrimination of services? If so, under what circumstances are
such practices acceptable? What restrictions, if any, need to be
placed so that such measures are not abused? What measures
should be adopted to ensure transparency to consumers? Please
comment with justifications.
Question 14: Is there a justification for allowing differential pricing
for data access and OTT communication services? If so, what
changes need to be brought about in the present tariff and
regulatory framework for telecommunication services in the
country? Please comment with justifications.
Question 15: Should OTT communication service players be treated
as Bulk User of Telecom Services (BuTS)? How should the framework
be structured to prevent any discrimination and protect stakeholder
interest? Please comment with justification.
Question 16: What framework should be adopted to encourage Indiaspecific
OTT apps? Please comment with justifications.
Question 17: If the OTT communication service players are to be
licensed, should they be categorised as ASP or CSP? If so, what
should be the framework? Please comment with justifications.
Question 18: Is there a need to regulate subscription charges for
OTT communication services? Please comment with justifications.
Question 19: What steps should be taken by the Government for
regulation of non-communication OTT players? Please comment
Question 20: Are there any other issues that have a bearing on the