OTT Platforms: The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) declared that in exchange for the use of the services, the over-the-top (OTT) platforms must help build and develop digital telecom infrastructure in India, The Business Standard reported.
“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,” they said in the letter to the telecom secretary.
In order for service providers to charge any customer who uses their services, COAI noted, the government must establish a legislative framework.
The group proposed imposing a “use fee” on the real OTT traffic that is transported across telecom networks. The charge had to be “mutually agreed upon by the TSPs and OTT Players,” it stated.
“If a mutual agreement is not reached, then an appropriate Licencing and Regulatory framework should be in place which governs the contribution of OTT players towards creation of network infrastructure,” COAI added.
In order to “establish a level playing field,” COAI has suggested that the government include OTT communication services in the scope of the new Telecom Act. The letter emphasised how OTT billing is a topic of discussion all across the world.
“The European Commission (EU) is advocating for formalizing of due legislation for OTT players to share the network investment burden of the telecom players in a proportionate manner,” it said. The EU had earlier saidd that big tech companies generate high data traffic but do not invest in building infrastructure.
“In Australia, a world-first law was passed in Feb 2022, aimed at making tech giants pay for news content on their digital platforms,” COAI further said. It also gave an example of the governments of France, Italy, and Spain releasing a joint paper in August requesting a “swift development of legislative proposal” related to the contribution.
The COAI stated that the charges must be restricted to network consumption in order to promote MSMEs and small OTT businesses.