‘Licencing for OTTs will be threat to start-ups’

IAMAI, in its letter to the (Department of Telecommunication), expressed concern about the impact of these changes on India’s start-up ecosystem and digital economy. 

Published: 26th November 2022 09:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th November 2022 09:19 AM   |  A+A-

OTT playersImage used for representational purpose only.

OTT playersImage used for representational purpose only.

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Bringing over-the-top (OTT) players like WhatsApp, Signal, Google Meet and Telegram under licensing ambit will create existential threat to start-up ecosystem, said the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on Friday. 

The association, which represents start-ups and technology companies, said these changes would only establish additional sources of revenues for well-established sectors (telecom sector) while leaving the start-up ecosystem vulnerable to compliance costs. IAMAI, in its letter to the (Department of Telecommunication), expressed concern about the impact of these changes on India’s start-up ecosystem and digital economy. 

“Creating room for licencing provisions applicable to OTT service providers presents an existential threat to India’s start-up ecosystem by creating herculean barriers to entry,” said IAMAI in a statement.  Telcos have been raising demand to regulate OTT players every now and then.

Their demand got strengthened following the introduction of Draft Telecom Bill, which proposes all internet calling and messaging apps to comply with the Know Your Customer (KYC) provisions when they come under the telecom regulation ambit. The Cellular Operator Association of India(COAI) advocated to bring OTT players under licencing ambit citing a level-playing field.  

COAI suggested OTT communication service providers can pay directly to the telcos for use of their networks for providing services. Broadband India Forum; which counts tech firms like TCS, Cisco, Amazon, Google, Microsoft; said regulating OTT players could hurt startups ecosystem and innovation. 
“Not only this would mean aspiring start-ups, which are still evolving and developing their business and monetisation models, will risk massive compliance costs in their infancy, but also would mean that foreign investors bullish on Indian start-ups may experience a chilling effect owing to the drastic policy uncertainty,” said IAMAI.



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