KNN India, March 02, 2023
The regulation of over the top (OTT) service providers will have an adverse impact on smaller business in the field, as they may not be in a position to share the infrastructure cost with telecom service providers (TSPs) said CUTS International on Thursday.
This will result in them being deprioritised or shut out from the network, warned the advocacy think tank noting that the consumer voice has been missing from the debate all together.
“Any change must prevent unintended adverse consequences on consumers, and should be beneficial for them,” said Amol Kulkarni, Director (Research), CUTS International.
It has identified that additional compliance requirements like licensing may create entry barriers for smaller players.
“This might affect the entire SME ecosystem servicing and dependent on such players, consequently impacting the employment generation potential of the sector,” added Kulkarni.
The OTT service providers are currently regulated under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and will be subject to additional obligations under upcoming digital personal data protection law.
The TSPs have demanded that OTT service providers should share the infrastructure cost and be subject to similar rules as them.
Subjecting OTT service providers to additional unreasonable regulations may negatively affect consumers, said CUTS International.
“For instance, some OTT service providers, particularly the smaller ones who offer unique and customised content to consumers, may not be in a position to enter into mutually beneficial cost-sharing arrangements with the TSPs. Their services may be deprioritised or disallowed on the network, impairing consumer choice for accessing services they desire,” it added.
Similarly, should OTTs service providers decide to pass on the cost, the consumers will face double whammy as they would need to pay the TSPs for network access, and to the OTT services providers for accessing their services.
“This might particularly impact consumers who overwhelmingly depend on OTT services for information, education, upskilling, and income generation,” said Kulkarni.
The Director has suggested for creating a level playing field between OTT service providers and TSPs by subjecting both to similarly stringent regulations may not be right approach.
“To the contrary, there is a strong case to rationalise the regulatory framework for TSPs by doing away with unreasonable requirements,” concluded Kulkarni.
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