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Telecom companies feel threatened by OTT communication services

A rise of someone is, more often than not, a fall of someone else. As everything in this world depends on something or the other, success is no different, it always depends on someone else’s failure. Similarly, Reliance Jio’s stupendous success depends on the fall of Airtel and VIL, it may be because of Jio’s outstanding market strategies but it has shown us that not everything can co-exist when it comes to business.

That said, telecom business has a funny way to outdo a company. It is not always the price or connectivity or anything related to the business, it is a technology more advanced than them that outlasts everyone around. There is such a threat to the telecom partners right now. It is more underlying to be specific but they are sensing it. There is going to be a world when the internet will not be only in some places but all around the world and then OTT (over-the-top) communication platforms will run the communication around the world. Then the time of telecom companies will come to an end. As you know, nothing co-exists in business.

Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea are the major telecom partners in India. These companies have raised concern over the OTT communication platforms as they feel the change happening around them. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) which represents all these major telecom companies has asked TRAI to include all the OTT communication platforms to go through the same regulations as that of the telecom partners.

Reliance Jio has asked Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to try and allow the lawful interception of those calls and messages as well. The reason behind this is that it will be easy to catch criminal, anti-social and anti-national activities happening around. However, that is hardly the reason behind their request. It is quite clear that the telecom partners feel threatened by the rise of the OTT communication services such as WhatsApp calls Skype, Snapchat calls or any other platforms.

That said, COAI has requested that OTT platforms should be included in the same regulatory framework as that of telecom partners. However, there was strong opposition to this request from NASSCOM and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The two organizations were of the opinion that the OTT communication platforms already have a lot of regulations to work through and adding more would only make it difficult for up and coming similar platforms.

That said, Reliance Jio and other platforms might have got the timing of the request right as the Indian government is strengthening its security over data. It has taken harsh steps to localize the data and ask the foreign companies to do the same. This is because of the recent data breaches. It will interesting to see if TRAI listens to the telecom companies or the organizations.

– Unmesh Phule

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