Editorial 1: Why is the government pushing for regulatory mechanisms for OTT services?


  • On July 7, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) invited responses to a consultation paper it released on a regulatory mechanism for over-the-top (OTT) communication services. The paper also mentions selective banning of these services.

The underlying issue

  • The discussion on the selective banning of OTT services came after a Parliamentary Standing Committee issued a notice to the Department of Telecom (DoT) to explore this option due to the unrest caused by these platforms which have mass reach and impact.
  • It is important to note that only OTT communication services like WhatsApp, Signal, Meta, Google Meet, Zoom, X, etc. were discussed in the consultation paper and not the ‘content’ OTTs such as Netflix, Amazon Prime etc.
  • Content regulation is an altogether different subject and it comes under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and not the TRAI.
  • The TRAI has also asked stake holders to define OTT, and a proposal on cost-sharing mechanisms between Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) and OTT services.

The conflict between TSPs and OTTs

  • Telecom Service Providers are of the opinion that OTTs should be regulated and charged because they use and thrive on the infrastructure built by operators over the years. Currently, they aren’t.
  • OTT communications services have led to erosion of revenues for the telcos.
  • These platforms offer users an array of services, sending of Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS), instant messaging to voice and video calls, delivered over the internet.
  • This circumvents the need for traditional telecom services, particularly voice calls and text messages, leading to a significant reduction in the revenue streams of telecom companies.
  • OTT communication service providers neither contribute to the exchequer nor make investments like the TSPs in spread of network infrastructure in the country.
  • The OTT communication service providers take a free ride on TSP funded networks without contributing to the setting up and maintaining digital infrastructure for access networks.

The demand

  • There should be a policy framework to enable fair share contribution from large OTT service providers to telecommunication network operators based on assessable criteria like number of subscribers or data usage.
  • To ensure fairness and compensate for the increased data demands, it is justifiable for OTTs to pay a fair and reasonable fair share charge to TSPs.
  • The funds received by TSPs from OTTs will support the expansion of networks and enhance contribution to the exchequer, the COAI added.
  • That is, all such OTT services should be governed by the same set of rules irrespective of whether they are provided by an operator on its own network or through the internet.

The argument for banning OTT services

  • OTTs obtain the location of the customers and can easily bar access.
  •  Once the OTT communication services are under license this barring will be much easier to implement.
  • TSP’s networks are capable of selectively blocking the OTT subject to details like IP addresses provided by the Competent Authority.
  • Government should consider source-level blocking so that the desired outcome may be achieved without any significant difficulties.

Way forward

  • OTT providers should implement IT solutions that would allow them to swiftly suspend their services in case of an internet outage.

Editorial 2: Assessing outcomes of G-20 summit


  • The 18th G-20 Summit produced the ‘New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration’. Now it is time to evaluate the declaration and assess its value on the three-fold yardstick of consensus.

Driving philosophy

  • Six paragraphs of the ‘Preamble’ and the last paragraph of the ‘Conclusion’ reveal the goals and driving motivations of the G-20 leaders.
  • We are One Earth, One Family, and we share One Future”, they noted.
  • The notion of unity and a shared destiny was aptly stressed to covey the gravity of the multiple challenges facing humankind today.
  • The way out for the world is to be driven by the “the philosophy of living in harmony with our surrounding ecosystem.”
  • They worked on harmonising development with environment, stating that no country should have to choose between fighting poverty and fighting for our planet.
  • Paragraph 5 lists 12 goals to which the members are fully committed. These range from securing inclusive growth and accelerating full implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda to addressing debt vulnerability, reform of Multilateral Development Banks, and integrating the perspectives of the Global South into the “future G-20 agenda.”
  • The document’s last paragraph reiterates the determination “to steer the world out of its current challenges” and build a bright future. That this will be a long-term project was evident.
  • Eight paragraphs were devoted to defining the grouping’s view of what the preceding ministerial meetings had called “geopolitical issues.
  •  A fine balance was struck between the Russian red line and the insistence by G7 on ensuring respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence.
  • This middle path, crafted by Indian negotiators, with the valuable help from other countries’ diplomats, was seen as the only way to save the summit.
  • The first-ever expansion of G-20 membership was imbued with much significance.
  • The document depicts the AU as a permanent member even though G-20 does not have permanent and non-permanent members; it has only members and guests.
  • G-20’s central agenda relating to economic and financial sectors, climate action and energy transitions, implementation of SDGs, technological transformation through Digital Public Infrastructure, reform of international financial institutions, trade, and taxation, and securing gender equality and empowerment of “all” women and girls is wide-ranging, ambitious, and even aspirational.

Reinvigorating multilateralism

  • Paragraph 47 propounds the view that global challenges of the 21st century can only be addressed through reinvigorated multilateralism, reforms and international cooperation.
  • It wants the UN institutions to be more responsive to the entire membership. The need to make the global governance more representative, effective, transparent and accountable has been stated clearly.
  • The fact that these formulations have the support of the entire G-20 leadership creates a glimmer of hope of some progress in the future, even though realism demands that the proponents of reform to remain cautious.

Way forward

  • On the CAI yardstick, it is obvious that the declaration is not only backed by “100%” consensus, but it also breaks new grounds and records progress in terms of concepts, goals, and objectives, as compared to the Bali Declaration.
  • Meanwhile, there should be no hesitation in recognising that the summit has been a major political and diplomatic success for G-20 and its current president, India.