TRAI Consultation Paper on Regulating Over-the-Top Communication Services: A Response

TRAI Consultation Paper on Regulating Over-the-Top Communication Services: A Response

By Ananth Padmanabhan and Meghna Bal
7 January 2019

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently initiated a consultation on regulating over-the-top (OTT) communication services. The underlying premise was that many of these OTT services competed directly with product offerings of telecom service providers (TSPs) without being regulated in a similar fashion. Responding to this claim of regulatory arbitrage, the researchers contend that the technology and business models of OTTs are quite distinct from those of TSPs. They conclude that critical issues such as the regulability of OTTs, the deregulation of TSPs, and the aspects of OTT behaviour meriting some regulatory oversight, merit independent evaluation by respective jurisdictional authorities. Umbrella regulations from TRAI that address all these aspects from the limited lens of revenue loss suffered by TSPs will be counter-productive for India's digital economy as well as overall consumer welfare.