OTT players must compensate telcos for using infrastructure: COAI
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has suggested charging over-the-top (OTT) players for using telecom services in a letter to the telecom secretary. There has been increasing talk in India about making OTT players pay in one way or another for using different services. The COAI wants OTT platforms to pay mutually agreed "usage charges" to service providers.
Why does this story matter?
- As OTT services continue their growth, the clamor to regulate them has been growing around the world. India is no different.
- COAI, a Delhi-based body that represents major telecom players, has been at the forefront of calls to license, tax, and regulate OTT players.
- However, several lobby groups, including NASSCOM and IAMAI, have been advocating for less regulation of OTT players.
COAI wants to levy 'usage charge' for actual traffic
In a letter to the telecom secretary, COAI talked about levying a usage for actual traffic carried by OTT players on telecom networks. It said, "Any entity which creates a property or infrastructure by investing funds, is entitled to take usage charges (rent/lease charges, etc.) from the user of that property or infrastructure who uses the same for commercial purposes."
Usage charge must be reached through mutual agreement: COAI
The association asked the government to provide a legal framework for charging OTT players. The COAI said that the usage charge must be determined by a mutual agreement between TSPs (telecom service providers) and OTT players. It added that in the absence of a mutual agreement, an appropriate licensing and regulatory framework should be in place to govern OTT payers' contribution toward network creation.
The letter mentioned some global examples of regulating OTT players
The letter touched upon the demand for legislation on OTT players globally. It talked about the European Commission working on making OTT players share the network investment burden in a proportionate manner. It also mentioned the law passed in Australia earlier this year that made tech giants such as Google and Facebook pay for digital news content.
COAI wants OTT to be included in telecom services
In India, there has been a growing call to regulate OTT players. Previously, COAI director general SP Kochhar had talked about taxing OTT players and bringing them under the ambit of telecom services. The government's new draft Telecommunications Bill, 2022 aims to bring OTT communications players or apps under the legal ambit of telecom services.