The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has decided to exclude over-the-top (OTT) players or apps from the definition of telecommunication services in the upcoming Telecom Bill.
According to an Economic Times report, the decision provides considerable relief to popular communication service providers like WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram, as they will continue to operate outside the realm of telecom regulation.
DoT officials have emphasized that they have no intentions of regulating OTT platforms and assured that there will be no revenue-sharing arrangements imposed on them. This move aligns with the existing definition under the Indian Telegraph Act, which DoT believes adequately covers the scope of OTT services.
The Telegraph Act, which is set to be replaced by the new Telecom Bill, retains the definition of ‘telegraph.’
While the bill is expected to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament, officials have noted that some refinements are being made in the language and content, particularly in light of recent Supreme Court judgments related to the allocation of scarce natural resources like spectrum.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will assume the role of the nodal ministry responsible for regulating OTT players while broadcasting apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Hotstar will fall under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as the nodal regulatory authority.