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Telecom industry asked the government to regulate OTT communication apps

Batting for a level-playing field, telecom companies have urged the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to regulate over-the-top (OTT) communication applications such as WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal.

The change was brought about by a number of recommendations made to the DoT by business organisations during consultations on a new telecom regulatory framework that had been suggested. The draught Bill is anticipated to be made available to the public for comment in the upcoming days.

A “forward-looking” regulation that addresses the needs of the convergence of different digital services, including telecom, broadcast, and OTT communication services, has reportedly been demanded by the sector.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), focusing on OTT communication apps, highlighted that the growing adoption of digital technologies has caused market convergence and “intermodal” rivalry. The industry group lamented the fact that OTT applications are increasingly providing voice, data, and video services across a single broadband platform with or without spectrum as a result of the existing situation.

The sector leaders requested a converged law for different technologies and platforms, citing blurred lines between broadcasting and telecom networks.

“We, therefore, submit that the outcome of this consultation process should result in the development of converged law and regulation for telecommunications (both terrestrial and satellite communication), broadcasting and IT and shall also address the legal and regulatory issues related to data privacy and related security issues,” the COAI was quoted as saying.

The industry group also demanded that the government reduce licence fees from the current 3% of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) to between 0.5% and 1% of AGR and use them solely for administrative expenses.

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