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Telcos urge ‘fair share’ contribution from OTT players

Telecom operators on Thursday have again urged the government to implement a revenue-sharing model or ensure a ‘fair share’ contribution from over-the-top (OTT) players. It also called for a higher revenue from larger OTT players

“When high bandwidth OTT applications carry heavy traffic with high quality of service (QoS) requirements (HD video streaming, downloading, sharing, etc) a fair and proportionate charge needs to be paid to the network provider for facilitating their business. For low bandwidth applications which do not generate much traffic, the general data tariffs may suffice,” SP Kochhar, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said.

He said while telcos have been carrying the massive investment burden for deploying networks and delivering connectivity across the country entirely by themselves, OTT players have emerged offering bandwidth-heavy services and generating disproportionately high traffic, compelling further upgrades and capacity enhancement of the networks, but contributing nothing to the network expenses. “Even in rural areas, where telecom service providers (TSPs) don’t have viable business cases to roll out services, OTTs have led to increased demand for data services/ bandwidth, with nominal average revenue per user (ARPUs) not justifying the network expenses incurred to facilitate it,” he said.

‘Not burdened users’

He noted that the tariff rates for Indian telecom consumers continue to be among the lowest in the world because the sector is committed to facilitating ‘Digital India’ and fulfilling the “Right to Internet” for all Indian citizens — a fundamental right in today’s age and scenario. “We have not raised the required revenues by burdening the end users, as it would defeat the purpose of providing affordable access to all. Therefore, in terms of revenue generation, the focus of the TSPs would now be on networks, applications and innovative services — which includes OTTs,” Kochhar said, adding that support is required for the telcos in this fast evolving and rapidly converging digital communications technology landscape, where a collaborative effort needs to be made.

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