SP Kochhar (pictured), director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said the Indian government would gain more revenue from taxes if OTTs start compensating operators.
Kochhar, a signal officer in the Indian army for 40 years till 2013, has been the COAI chief since 2020.
He said the government of India should clearly define communication services to remove any ambiguity in the concept. “The definition should be clear and futuristic when it comes to communications.”
According to reports, he said OTTs should compensate carriers for building networks “as they see it as the most infrastructure-intensive”.
COAI is also seeking what it called a “light touch license regime” for OTTs providing telecommunication services.
COAI has also sent its proposals to the Indian government’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) as part of discussions on the telecom bill.
The labor organization has calculated that government revenue from telecom operators will increase by eight billion rupees (about $100 million) if OTTs start paying telecom operators.
COAI said: “OTT communication service providers can pay directly to telecom operators to use their networks to provide their services in a fair and equitable manner equal to the ‘interconnection charge’ (means network access charge) at the actual rate. the traffic carried by these OTTs on the telephone networks, can be easily measured.”
The organization said: “As mobile service providers will be receiving revenue from OTTs as part of their communications services, they will automatically pay a license fee to the government.”
COAI is also seeking compensation for the internet shutdown. “Internet shutdowns not only affect the ARPUs of telcos, but also the consumer base. Non-commercial infrastructure is also required to be set up by TSPs [telecoms service providers] about this, to call them. The same payment will be considered by the government.”
Rudolf van der Berg, a communications expert from the Netherlands, called COAI’s proposals “an incredibly bad idea”.
He explained: “India in 2011 was the country that showed why paying mobile termination rates to connect to networks is a bad idea. She lowered herself and the phones rang. During that time Pakistan increased its international cut-off rate and calls dropped and fraud increased. “
Writing on LinkedIn he added: “If OTT has to pay how will small claims deal with that. A request for farmers to see market prices? Request to stay in touch with a child working abroad? Traffic will decrease and it will be poor people and small applications that will suffer. “