Industry body ASSOCHAM has suggested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to restore the pricing flexibility to license TSPs (Telecom service providers) and also to review the existing differential pricing regulation.
According to ASSOCHAM, the pricing flexibility will promote the goals of broadband connectivity, attract investment and innovation, thus allowing consumer choice for internet access. Instead of regulating or prohibiting certain practices, the framework should be designed in a way that it encourages a variety of business models under its forbearance regime with regulatory oversight, stated a released from the association.
Creating TSP agnostic platform will further add an additional layer between the content providers, TSPs and the consumers, meaning this can create additional costs and lots of inefficiencies. Also, nobody will undertake the responsibility of the consumer grievances that arise. This will ultimately affect the policy of affordable internet for all.
“Allowing the unregulated third party to provide free data to the exclusion of TSPs may be detrimental to the TSP heavily invested Infrastructure, enabling Digital platform, thus reducing choice and innovation capabilities of TSPs,” said ASSOCHAM. There could also be the troubles of gate-keeping and the platforms may not adhere to TRAI’s Act, resulting in unregulated or improper control of such platforms by TRAI.
ASSOCHAM spokesman further said if the TSP agnostic platform is to be regulated, then why a similar platform cannot be offered by TSPs under a similar regulatory framework. The chamber further cautioned that allowing content providers to adopt these models and provide the service will cause loss of revenue to the exchequer amounting to restrict TSPs right to conduct business.
ASSOCHAM has also brought to the notice of TRAI that the European Union Regulations and the United States of America’s Open Internet Rules allow differential pricing subject to certain boundaries, which will maintain net neutrality. As a result, necessary technical and commercial flexibility is provided to TSPs.
Therefore, it requested TRAI to take a holistic view on the issues relating to OTT services, Net Neutrality, Same Service Same Rules and Differential Pricing and take a de-novo approach to the issue of provisioning free data.