Draft Telecom Bill: BIF Urges Exclusion of OTT Services from Objects

The Broadband India Forum (BIF) has asserted that Over-The-Top (OTT) telecommunications service should be excluded from the provisions in the definition of telecommunications services, as the industry body has given its submissions on the telecommunications bill.

BIF said a number of strong and valid reasons differentiate OTTs from telecommunications.

“By bringing OTTs under the principle of mobile license, it would mean that the government will hold and have exclusive rights and rights to determine, build, develop and use OTT applications. Such a situation would be very confusing and impossible and lead to the collapse of the entire app ecosystem, thereby how to impact innovation and economic growth,” BIF said in its latest presentation to government on the draft bill.

The draft bill covers OTT communication services, even though such players do not own a telecommunications network, BIF argued.

It suggested that sectors other than telecommunications, such as broadcasting and OTT communications (or having any other nomenclature instead of OTT Communications) cannot be at the center of the draft bill.

“OTT Communications/OTTs are actually applications and not communication services, and like any application, they use the Internet, and do not own or use a telephone/telecommunications network,” it argued.

BIF noted that there are arguments that OTT communications should be brought under the scope of the bill, and went on to add that “such arguments are wrong, both under law and policy”.

“Some such disputes may be driven by commercial motives,” the forum added.

According to the forum, the commercial argument that OTT is a free-ride service is “incorrect and irrelevant” in the current context.

OTT service providers and users pay TSPs (Telecom Service Providers) for the cost of using the network.

Moreover, the business models of OTT and TSPs are very different and OTT never and cannot bypass broadband/telecom infrastructure to provide OTT services to its users, it said.

“It is respectfully submitted that OTT communication service should be excluded from the elements of the definition of communication services in the Draft Bill,” BIF added.

Regarding spectrum management, the industry think-tank said that satellite spectrum should continue to be allocated in an administrative manner.


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