The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has called for a level playing field in licensing across various content delivery technologies, including over-the-top (OTT) platform applications. The TRAI Chairman, PD Vaghela, stressed the need for a simplified regime for licensing, license fees, and cross-sector holdings to facilitate the growth of new technologies. According to an ET Telecom report, Vaghela suggested that the existing players in the telecom and broadcast sectors should be given some relief from regulation rather than introducing new regulations for new players and technologies.
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TRAI has a limited mandate in regulating service providers who have been issued licenses by the government. Currently, OTTs do not require a license to operate, but TRAI is undertaking research on the matter. After completing the research, TRAI may issue a consultation paper and make recommendations to the government.
Speaking at an industry event in Mumbai, Vaghela also addressed pricing challenges in the broadcast distribution sector. He emphasised the need for a simplified regime in licensing and license fee structure for new technologies. He suggested that rather than bringing new players under the licensing regime and introducing new regulations, it would be better to relieve the regulatory burden on existing players.
TRAI's call for a level playing field in licensing is aimed at creating a favourable ecosystem for telecom and broadcast companies. By simplifying the licensing regime and regulations, TRAI hopes to facilitate the growth of new technologies in the sector.
The need to bring a level playing field has also been vocalised by the telecom industry body COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India). COAI has multiple times asked the government to bring the OTT players under licensing as well to ensure that there is a level playing field for the telcos and the OTT companies.