Thursday, April 2, 2015

Regulation or Net Neutrality: What should be the focus of TRAI's Consultation Paper ?

First Thing First

Before we dwell into the debate around Regulations and Net Neutrality of OTT services, we all need to take a step back and think what is the need of the moment, really, without getting carried away with the plight of Telecom players.

I think Regulation of OTT services and Net Neutrality are two different issues, which need different handling. No matter how much someone tries to connect them, these issues pertain to different objectives.

Regulations are as old as telecom industry. They are often required to protect the interest of consumers and nation especially around personal and social security, privacy, fairness etc. In fact not many are denying the need for some kind of regulation of OTT services. Only extent of regulation can be debated depending on kind of OTT service. 

On the other hand Net Neutrality is an concern raised by certain market players for their business objectives. Internet has been around for a while but Net Neutrality is being talked about in recent times. Why ? Because till a few years back Telecom Operators were considered mighty companies dictating terms with every other player in the ecosystem. Today situation is quite different. A lot many non-telecom players have equal opportunity to compete for consumer's attention and money and Telecom players are feeling the heat.

Hence it was TRAI's responsibility to do that distinction between Regulation of OTT services and Net Neutrality and it has failed miserably to do so. Since TRAI consultation paper is on "Regulatory Framework for OTT Services", it should have focused primarily on regulation of OTT services in current scheme of things. But instead paper talks a lot about impact of OTT services on revenue of TSPs giving them undue advantage in influencing the policy making with repeated hue & cry.

So as a consumer, i would sincerely request TRAI and other stakeholders to focus on regulation on OTT services first to bring reasonable accountability in this whole OTT space. 

Net Neutrality can be debated after regulations have shown some results.

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