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TRAI says no to regulations for OTT players

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's telecoms watchdog on Monday said over-the-top (OTT) communication services do not currently need a regulatory framework, casting aside the threat of potential restrictions on platforms such as Facebook FB.O, WhatsApp and Google GOOGL.O.

India’s telecoms firms have long lobbied for regulation of apps that offer free voice and text services over the internet, arguing that such services erode their revenues.

“It is not an opportune moment to recommend a comprehensive regulatory framework for various aspects of services referred to as OTT services, beyond the extant laws and regulations prescribed presently,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a statement.

TRAI also said no regulatory intervention was needed on issues related to privacy and security of OTT services.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Net neutrality activists welcomed the TRAI’s decision, but the telecoms industry lobby group, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said the TRAI had not addressed issues such as regulatory imbalance and non-level playing field between telecoms service providers (TSPs) and OTT communication players.

“Without a resolution of these issues TSPs will continue to be at a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis OTT Communication Service Providers,” COAI director general S P Kochhar said in a statement.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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