Delicensing of the 5 GHz band for WiFi

The National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) is currently being reviewed by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in India. It is an opportune time to delicense additional bands for WiFi, which are increasingly facing congestion in India. Whereas the US (FCC) has delicensed 580 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band for WiFi, India has only delicensed 350 MHz. While the entire 580 MHz can be used for both indoor and outdoor use in the US, only 50 MHz can be used for outdoor use in India. This, along with the low power limits, are a growing constraint in the proliferation of WiFi in India. Given that Public WiFi is one of the priority initiatives as part of the Digital India program, the Government should look to delicense additional bands for WiFi and backhaul.

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Non-Discriminatory Zero-Rating Practices

We tend to intuitively assume that all forms of differential pricing are discriminatory. This is not true. Differentiation is not the same as discrimination.

The vast majority of countries around the world do not ban all differential pricing and zero-rating programs.  Of those jurisdictions that do place certain parameters on differential pricing and zero-rating practices, the majority have found that such offers can be structured to be non-discriminatory and consistent with net neutrality.
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OTT Regulation: The myth of ‘same-service-same-rules’

Over The Top (OTT) services refer to internet based applications that run over mobile devices. Given that OTT services like Viber, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts are often used as substitutes for PSTN voice/sms services, incumbent telecom operators have started building the narrative that regulations applicable to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) should also be applicable to such OTT applications since they are “substitutes”. In other words, TSPs demand that regulations requiring licensing, lawful interception, do-not-disturb facilities, data localisation, portability etc should also be extended to these internet based applications. This is referred to as “OTT Regulation”. Continue reading OTT Regulation: The myth of ‘same-service-same-rules’

Reliance Jio Demands Data Localisation

In response to the recent TRAI Consultation Paper on “Privacy, Security, and Ownership of the Data in the Telecom Sector”, Reliance Jio and Airtel have submitted comments in which they have strongly pushed for data localization and OTT regulation. The Jio submission even cites the regressive examples of China and Russia to build the case for data localization. Continue reading Reliance Jio Demands Data Localisation