In a meeting with Trai chairman P D Vaghela, the telcos – led by Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal and having senior officials from Jio, Vodafone Idea, Tata Tele and BSNL – said while mobile companies are being subjected to stiff regulations such as ‘lawful interception’ and licensing norms, there are no such controls on OTT companies even though they increasingly account for a significant share of call and messaging traffic.
“When it comes to blackouts and outages, there are instances when services of platforms such as WhatsApp are down, but there are no questions asked from them. As telcos, we are held accountable for quality of services, and even other parameters related to consumer services,” the telcos said.
The mobile companies said apart from getting an easy regulatory regime, the new-age internet companies – that ride over their networks – are also eating into their revenues, which is having an impact on network expansion plans and profitability.
Highlighting the ‘threats to national security’, the telecom companies said most of the OTT platforms are app-based businesses, which are operating in India in a “near regulatory vacuum”, with not many guidelines to govern their operations.
The government has already been at the receiving end of OTT companies in the past as platforms have refused to part with user data when asked by the law-enforcement agencies under specific criminal cases.