On Thursday, September 14, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) announced that their recommendation that over-the-top (OTT) players should pay telecom companies towards network cost “does not violate” the principle of net neutrality.
How Did This Happen?
At the start of this month, the news circulated that the telecom operators of the country, which is also the second largest wireless market, would like internet companies to compensate for using their networks.
This is the recommendation they’ve made to the local regulatory body, echoing a viewpoint that is gaining some momentum in other parts of the world but also stoking fears about violation of net neutrality.
The news of this announcement from COAI comes at a time when a debate over net neutrality has erupted over telecom companies such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea suggesting that OTT players pay a “fair share” charge toward network cost based on the number of users they have, the traffic they generate and so on.
Nothing To Do With Net Neutrality
“Net neutrality concerns unbiased treatment of content and is completely unrelated to the fair share charge to be paid by OTTs to TSPs (telecom service providers). It is worthwhile to emphasize here that our member TSPs are committed to following the net neutrality principle as per their licensing conditions,” said SP Kochhar, COAI’s director general (retd) Lt Gen during a media briefing.
Here COAI is an Indian non-governmental trade association and advocacy group focused mainly on the telecommunications industry and its core members are Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone Idea.
Further Kochhar added, “While telcos have been carrying the massive investment burden for deploying networks and delivering connectivity across the country entirely by themselves, OTT players have emerged offering bandwidth-heavy services and generating disproportionately high traffic, compelling further upgrades and capacity enhancement of the networks, but contributing nothing to the network expenses.”
When it comes to OTT, as the name suggests, it can mean any content provider that works on top of existing internet services provided by telecom companies.
This group includes all major platforms such as Google, WhatsApp, Meta, and any other platform that depends on the internet.