[This is the second part of a two-part post authored by Abhilash Roy and Hrishikesh Bhise, fourth-year students at the National Law Institute University, Bhopal. Click here for Part I]
Argument for a Level Playing Field
‘Fair and reasonable opportunities to all market players’ and the concept of ‘a level playing field’ for market participants is important for a regulatory framework. A good regulatory framework is designed to induce confidence in the market and stems from necessity, more so, the imperativeness that positive competition practices in the market thrive and ensure opportunities to all participants without indirectly favouring a specific section of the market. It is evident that absence of a regulatory framework for OTT services is fostering poor competitive environment. For example, massive digital ad-revenue and the power/outreach of internet has facilitated the growth of OTT companies as giants in the industry and gives them an advantage over TSPs with respect to similar services such as messages and VoIP, among other things such as lack of a digital ad-revenue space for TSPs. However, there is ample evidence to suggest that telecom industry is not a ‘victim’ in a clinical sense as TSPs still charge customers for data consumption for using OTT services and an increase in these services results in increased data consumption which then translates to increased revenue for telecom companies. Any regulatory framework would have to be formulated by keeping in mind the revenue model of both stakeholders.