Media & Entertainment News

‘OTT communication, broadcasting, can’t be termed as telecom services’

Broadband India Forum (BIF), representing tech companies, has said that over-the-top (OTT) communication services, broadcasting services and internet-based communication can’t be termed as telecommunication services and therefore, should not be brought under the licensing framework.

BIF’s submission came on the last day of the deadline to provide comments on the draft telecom Bill. As per officials, nearly 900 comments have been received and work has already started to frame a revised draft of the telecom Bill.

Stressing on the point around OTTs, BIF in its submission said bringing such players under the ambit of the telecommunication service licence implies that the government only holds the exclusive privileges to decide, build, develop and operate the OTT apps. “Such a situation is grossly anomalous, highly impractical and will lead to a collapse of the entire app ecosystem and thereby impacting innovation and growth of the economy.”

BIF, which counts tech players like Meta, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Intel, TCS, OneWeb, Star etc as its members, has submitted that the definition of telecommunication service should be amended keeping in mind that licensing should be required for telecommunication network.
BIF echoes views by another tech players body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), which too had demanded that content and broadcasting should be kept outside the purview of telecom. In contrast, telecom firms like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea as well as industry association Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) want that the government bring OTTs under the regulatory regime.

All the stakeholders have submitted their views on the draft telecom bill, which was put up for public consultation in September. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has tried to simplify the language and regulatory framework in the draft bill, which will be the nodal legislation for governing the telecom sector.

BIF has said while it appreciates the need to modernise the framework, it should not negate the existing framework.

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