Will Facebook, Whatsapp, Netflix Pay Access Charges To Telcos? (New TRAI Rules)?
Social media intermediaries like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, and OTT players like Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+Hotstar may have to pay a carriage charge to telecom service providers.
This may happen once TRAI and DoT finalize rules as part of a new regulatory regime.
Video data makes up 70% of the overall traffic flow on telecom networks and is set to grow further with the rollout of 5G services.
With the growth in data they will have to provide, telcos have to keep increasing their carriage capacity and backhaul networks which requires investments.
Hence they have to be compensated for them.
Still being studied
TRAI is currently studying various possible models under which OTTs can be brought within the purview of some form of regulation.
The draft Telecom Bill also suggests bringing them under regulation.
Once TRAI studies the subject, it will prepare a consultation paper to seek stakeholders’ comments.
Making OTTs and intermediaries pay a carriage charge is not something new, but is based on the principle of interconnection charges applicable to telecom players.
While the interconnect charge regime for telecom operators is well designed the question remains how it will apply to intermediaries/ OTTs.
“Before TRAI comes out with its consultation paper, it will study global trends and come out with a proposed mechanism,” sources said.
Once an interconnect regime is fixed, it’s likely that OTTs and telcos will develop some revenue-sharing mechanism in lieu of paying the charge.
If the intermediaries/ OTTs are kept out of legal interception and only brought under the interconnect regime, there might not be opposition from sections which are against a regulatory regime for OTTs.
The basic opposition has to do with licensing and legal interception since the fear is that these may lead to breaking of encryption and state surveillance.
“However, no such thing applies to interconnect charges,” sources said.