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    Recommendations on OTT communication services on the way: TRAI chairman says

    The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will soon conduct an open house discussion on the regulation of over-the-top (OTT) communication services, post which it will come out with recommendations, TRAI Chairman Anil Kumar Lahoti said during a symposium conducted by The Centre for Digital Economy Policy Research (C-DEP) on May 17. TRAI came out with a consultation paper on the regulation of OTT communication services (calling and messaging services like WhatsApp and Telegram) last year in July.

    Since then, the regulator has begun consultations on a range of other issues, without any conclusion on its stand about whether OTT services should or should not be regulated. The telecom regulatory landscape saw a major change since the consultation with the Telecommunication Act, 2023 being discussed and passed by the Parliament and getting notified.

    The Telecom Act notably defines a message as— “any sign, signal, writing, text, image, sound, video, data stream, intelligence or information sent through telecommunication.” Given the broad definition of a message under the act, many have interpreted that OTT services would invariably end up falling under the purview of the regulation.

    When asked whether there is even a need for recommendations now that the Telecom Act has been released, Lahoti said that the consultation was initiated after the recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee, and would be completed. “And you see which act it becomes a part of, and which Ministry or regulator deals with it is a separate matter,” Lahoti explained.

    Other Key comments made by the TRAI Chairman:

    Work has begun on 5G use cases: One of the key concerns with 5G networks flagged by Reliance Jio and Bhati Airtel had been that of monetization. Of the two, Airtel had flagged that except for private 5G networks and some business-to-business (B2B) use cases, the applications that fully utilize the features offered by 5G networks (high speeds, low latency, and massive capacity) have not been developed yet. To address 5G monetization concerns, Lahoti said that the government is providing funds to a hundred educational institutions to create 100 test labs where entrepreneurs can develop use cases for 5G.

    There will be no recommendations on satcom: Another consultation that the regulator had initiated but did not come out with any recommendation on was satellite communication services. This consultation had been initiated based on a reference from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Lahoti explained that since the allocation of satellite spectrum has already been included under the Telecom Act, TRAI has sent back the reference it had received about the same back to DoT.

    Also read:

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    The post Recommendations on OTT communication services on the way: TRAI chairman says appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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