OTT messaging services like WhatsApp and Signal may soon be regulated in India. BusinessLine reported that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has received a reference from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for consultation (BL).
To stop technology from being abused, DoT has conducted numerous discussions to regulate OTT communication apps, the paper said. The department will shortly begin consulting with the ministries of electronics, information technology, and broadcasting.
But in September 2020, after speaking with a number of stakeholders, it was decided that no such regulation was necessary at the time. But it also mentioned that the review would be completed quickly.
Additionally, it had stated that premature regulation would hurt the sector and that market forces should be allowed to adjust to the circumstance without TRAI’s participation until necessary. The move will be well received by telecom operators, according to BL, as they have long sought that OTT apps that offer the same services as carriers be subject to the same restrictions.
After the DoT rejected the TRAI’s earlier recommendations on internet telephony, the latter sought extensive references on OTT service providers that enable users to place calls and send messages over the internet, according to a report by PTI citing an unnamed government official.
The DoT last week requested new recommendations from TRAI due to the environment changing due to new technology. TRAI had previously said that there was no need to regulate OTT services. According to the report, at the time, TRAI had suggested that internet service providers (ISPs) could offer internet telephony for placing calls on phone networks in exchange for payment of interconnection fees, which have since been eliminated for telecom operators. They could also offer the service if they installed equipment for lawful interception and paid the interconnection fees.