Vodafone CEO calls for a level playing field with OTT players
Vodafone has said that the government should tax over the top (OTT) players like WhatsApp, Viber, Hike and Facebook as they are getting a “free ride” on telecom networks without paying for spectrum or any other fee. This has been a recurring theme for operators over the past few years. Now the data market is (finally) heating up in India, the concern regarding OTT players seems to becoming more acute.
- “We should make sure that there is a level-playing field,” Vodafone India MD and CEO Marten Pieters told TOI, voicing his concern against the growing strength of OTT players, while riding the internet network of mobile operators.
- Growing speed of data and rapidly-rising internet user base have seen a boom in the number of subscribers for services like WhatsApp and Facebook, many of whom count India as one of their biggest markets. However, these companies do not have to pay anything for spectrum, which is one of the biggest costs for mobile operators.
An interesting supporting argument coming from the ASUPI President regarding OTT players
- The Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) president CS Rao said there is no rule to ensure that OTT players provide quality service to customers. “A major regulatory re-alignment is needed when consumers are moving from the minutes-usage era to megabyte-usage era.”
Even the local Telecom regulator has also waded into the OTT players vs Telecom discussion
- “The telecom service providers want a sort of discussion on treatment of OTT services like WhatsApp, Skype and others, which are actually cutting into their revenue,” Trai secretary Sudhir Gupta said.