NEW DELHI: Two major industry issues which has divided telecom operators and big tech firms — regulation of OTT (over-the-top) communication services and allotment of satellite spectrum – are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
This is because the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) which has to submit its recommendations on the same to the government, is without a regular chairman for more than a month now. The erstwhile chairman, PD Vagehla’s three-year term ended on September 30 and the government has so far not appointed his successor.
Sources said that it is unlikely that in the absence of a new chairman, the regulator will finalise its recommendations. Further, a new chairman once appointed will take time in getting familiarised with the issues so the possibility of firming up the recommendations is very remote, atleast by this year-end.
The delay in finalising the position on allocation of satellite spectrum will affect the roll out satellite-based broadband services by operators like Bharti Enterprises-backed OneWeb and Reliance Jio.
The issue at hand is not easy to resolve because amongst telcos while Jio and Vodafone Idea want the spectrum to be auctioned, Bharti does not. Pure-play satellite communication players like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Amazon are against any auctions and want administrative allocation of spectrum as it is different from airwaves uses for mobile services.
Communications and IT minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw said recently that the government will not take a final decision on the allocation methodology till the Trai recommendations are received and analysed.
While OneWeb recently stated that it will be service-ready shortly, Jio has already demonstrated satellite-based giga fiber service JioSpaceFiber, using the trial spectrum.
There’s also a sharp divide between the telecom operators and OTT communication players over the issue of bringing the latter under some form of regulation. While telcos are batting that the principle of same service, same rules, should apply and OTTs should be brought under regulation; big tech firms like Google, Meta, Telegram, etc have voiced their strong opposition.
Last month, as many as 129 startup founders including Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Zerodha’s Nithin Kamath, PhonePe’s Sameer Nigam, Razorpay’s Harshil Mathur, Toppr’s Zishaan Hayath, urged Trai to not accept any demand by telcos to charge network fees from OTT apps or specify any sort of revenue sharing mechanism between OTT and telcos.
The startup founders said such a move would affect the net neutrality principles that were outlined by the government in 2016 as well as lead to over-regulation of Internet services.
Source: The Financial Express