TELECOM players Monday mounted a blistering attack on Over the Top (OTT) service providers like WhatsApp and Facebook, arguing that competing OTTs should be subject to same stringent safeguards as telcos, especially on lawful interception and data localisation aspects.
OTT services refer to applications and services that are accessible over the Internet and ride on an operator's network. Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook and Hike are some of the popular and widely-used OTT services. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI's) open house discussion on 'regulatory framework for OTT Communications Services' saw a pitched battle between the two camps, with telecom operators asserting that some of the popular OTTs offering voice and messaging services are "perfect substitutes" to services provided by telcos and hence need to be regulated to avoid an imbalance in the sector.
The proponents of OTT services, however, hit back saying such apps are already regulated under Information Technology Act (IT Act) and any further control would only stifle innovation and growth. The telecom industry rued that it has suffered loss of revenue due to proliferation of OTT services, and urged TRAI to ensure `same service same rules' in terms of data localisation requirements, lawful interception, maintaining call records, and other related parameters.