Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) -- Consultation Paper on OTT Regulation

On July 07, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India released the Consultation Paper on ‘Regulatory Mechanism for Over-The-Top (OTT) Communication Services, and Selective Banning of OTT Services’. Comments are invited from the stakeholders by August 04, & counter-comments by August 18. This development coincides with Manipur High Court’s directions to partially lift the internet ban in Manipur, after instituting safeguards like blocking social media websites and others that might be difficult to enforce.

TRAI issued a consultation paper on Regulatory Framework for OTT services on Mar 27, 2015, the result of which remained inconclusive. TRAI held another consultation on the issue of ‘OTT Communication Services’ on Nov 12, 2018. TRAI relied on the “same service, same rules” & “fair share” arguments made by telecom companies in the 2018 consultation paper, to which IFF sent comments in January 2019.

Based on the comments received on the 2018 consultation paper, TRAI sent its (rather reassuring) recommendations to Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on September 14, 2020, which it is reconsidering based on DoT’s request dated September 2022.

TRAI’s consistent re-evaluation of this framework through recent consultations is concerning. We have previously engaged with relevant entities on the issue of OTT licensing & regulation, & will continue to do so. We highly encourage everyone to participate in this consultation process, as each internet user is a stakeholder here. Comments and counter-comments are to be sent through mail to TRAI on the email ID: [email protected].