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Do WhatsApp, Netflix require regulation? TRAI to seek consultations on OTT apps


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is going to release a new consultation paper by next week for regulating over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Skype, WhatsApp, Viber among others.

The regulation may include online video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hotstar, who too can be regulated, reports ET.

In past few years, online video streaming platforms have grown immensely. The sector has been dominated by global players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. In the wake of such regulatory frameworks, innovation and availability of such services will be affected.

This will be the second time that the Trai is seeking views on regulating OTT players. In March 2015, the regulatory body had raised the issue of apps providing calling and message services without licenses and regulations on net neutrality.

Two years later, in 2017, it had finalised recommendations on net neutrality advocating a free and open Internet. At the time, the apex telecom regulatory body had pointed that OTT platforms require being dealt separately.

Meanwhile, telecom operators have been emphasising that OTT platforms should be abided by same regulation and pay equal licensing fees as they do while bidding for spectrums.

Also Read: TRAI mulls cable operators’ concerns, may regulate OTT platforms Netflix, Amazon Prime, others

However, companies including WhatsApp, Skype, and Netflix believe that an increase in regulation will only stifle innovation as the users paid telcom companies for the data consumed while using such apps.

Shubho Ray, President of Internet and Mobile Association of India claimed that it is wrong to assume that the app makers are without regulation. Be it calling or otherwise, app makers are regulated under IT Act.

Earlier Direct-to-home (DTH) platforms and cable operators had raised concerns against online video streaming platforms that certain broadcasters are pushing same content parallelly through Internet channels, DTH platforms, and cable operators.

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