Limited regulation for India’s OTT and cloud companies?

Limited regulation for India’s OTT and cloud companies?

India’s telecommunications regulator the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has offered some relief to the likes of Facebook and WhatsApp with its recent decision that over-the-top (OTT) communication services do not currently need a regulatory framework.

Net neutrality lobbyists are likely to be pleased too. However, a number of telecommunications companies, many of which have asked for regulation of apps that offer free voice and text services over the internet, are less happy.

Reuters quotes TRAI as saying that it is not an opportune moment to recommend a comprehensive regulatory framework and that no regulatory intervention is needed on issues related to privacy and security of OTT services.

Nevertheless the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) remains concerned about what it calls the regulatory imbalance and non-level playing field between telecommunications service providers (TSPs) and OTT communication players.

Hard on the heels of that decision, TRAI has also recommended setting up an industry body for cloud service providers – possibly through the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) – as part of a ‘light-touch regulatory framework’. Such a body would require all cloud service providers (CSPs) to become its members. 

According to Indian news reports CSPs are generally opposed to the establishment of a regulatory framework, so this may be seen as a compromise. However, registration of CSPs under an industry body is not necessarily seen as a light-touch regulatory approach by the CSPs themselves.

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