Whatsapp, Skype Can Be Licensed, Regulated By Govt – 3 Changes You Should Be Ready For!

TRAI has released the consultation paper which talks about regulating OTTs like Whatsapp, Skype, Hike.

Whatsapp, Skype will be regulated?
Whatsapp, Skype will be regulated?

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or TRAI has finally released the draft of the consultation paper, which aims to discuss the issue of regulating OTTs or Over The Top players in India.

OTTs are messengers and apps which use the Internet to provide a specific service to the end-user. Whatsapp, Skype, Hike etc are leading OTTs in India.

The consultation paper titled: ‘Regulatory Framework for Over The Top Communications Services’ was released by TRAI to kickstart discussions and debates on this burning issue.


What This Consultation Paper Aims For?

As per TRAI, this consultation paper aims to discuss “changes that may be required in the current regulatory framework to govern these entities; and the manner in which such changes should be effected.”

Hence, TRAI believes that OTTs such as Whatsapp and Hike and others provide a very niche and unique service to the end-users, and hence, they should be regulated, licensed and controlled just like ISPs and Telecom service providers.

In case the suggestions mentioned in the consultation paper are approved, then some big-time changes can be witnessed in the overall usage and business model of these OTTs.

Based on the suggestions made in the consultation paper, we present three biggest changes which can happen in future:

OTTs Can Be Treated Same As Telcos

Now, this is the single biggest change which we can witness, in case TRAI approves the suggestions mentioned in the consultation paper. TRAI will single out those OTTs which provide “same or similar” services like that of telecom operators, and ISPs.

And once this happens, then OTTs can be asked to apply for ‘licenses’ and ‘permissions’ to operate in India.

This can be bad news for apps developers, as the cost of the license is huge, often running into hundreds of crores.

OTTs Can Be Asked To Invest In Network Upgrades/Towers

Now, this is the second biggest ‘reform’. OTTs such as Whatsapp, Skype etc can be asked to invest in the network capabilities of telcos, who have spent thousands of crores of rupees to buy spectrum and then install network coverage all over India.

TRAI has actually asked whether “regulatory or licensing imbalance” is impacting the telcos in India, as they invest heavily into network capabilities, which the OTT players use for offering their own services. (Example video calling on Whatsapp – the bandwidth used for such video calling is provided by Jio, Airtel etc)

Now, if this happens, then be ready to pay for using OTTs in India.

OTTs Can Be Asked To Offer Inter-operability

OTTs can be asked to launch Inter-operability features for better user-experience. This is modeled on the number portability feature of telecom operators, wherein a user can easily port-in or port-out from a telco to another.

TRAI said, “Would inter-operability among OTT services and also inter-operability of their services with TSPs services promote competition and benefit the users,”

The issue of tracking and tracking users of OTTs such as Whatsapp is also mentioned.

As per the consultation paper,

Stakeholders are requested to send their comments, preferably in electronic

form to the following address:

Shri. Asit Kadayan,

Advisor (QoS),

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI),

Mahanagar Door Sanchar Bhawan,

J.L. Nehru Marg, (Old Minto Road)

New Delhi – 110002, India

Email: [email protected]

Last Date for submission of comments: December 10, 2018

Last Date for submission of counter comments: December 24,2018

Comments will be posted on TRAI website www.trai.gov.in.

For any clarification/information, Advisor (QoS) may be contacted at

Tel. No.+91-11-2323-0404, Fax: +91-11-2321-3036.

You can find the entire consultation paper right here.

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