Whatsapp, Viber, Skype and other OTT (Over-the-top) app companies are in for good news as TRAI has announced that no charges would be levied from them after the telecom regulator decided against a proposal by telecom companies to make OTT services share part of their revenue with them or the government.
Indian telecom companies have been rallying for regulation of WhatsApp and similar messaging companies.
There were also plans to initiate a consultation paper regulating companies offering OTT voice and text services. TRAI has shelved proposals for this as well, stating that telecom companies have been able to make good their losses through data usage revenue. “One-third of the incremental revenue of the telecom industry is coming from data services itself. As far as the voice services are concerned, there is an upswing in the realisation rates,” said one of the TRAI officials, as reported by ToI [source].
Messaging Apps And The Government
This is not the time first time messaging apps have come under the regulatory spotlight.
Earlier in June 2013, Chinese messaging app WeChat came under the Intelligence Bureau scanner due to security concerns about its Chinese origins.
Even Canadian mobile manufacturer Blackberry was warned of dire consequences by the Indian government, if the access to user data was not provided, following which Blackberry agreed to set up a server in Mumbai to avoid being banned.
Similarly market regulator SEBI was also concerned about the risks messaging apps pose for the financial markets, especially with the encoded pattern the messaging apps transmit the messages with, which make them difficult to track.