Telcos can’t tie up exclusively with content providers: Trai

  • Press Trust of India
  • Updated: Jun 03, 2016 06:16 IST

NEW DELHI: Companies will have to take approval from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) before entering into tie-ups with content providers.

Rejecting telcos’ request to allow exclusive tie-ups with content providers in advance, the regulator on Thursday said it needs to examine actual plans before giving approval.

“TSPs (telecom service providers) are required to submit full details of the arrangements with content providers, to enable the authority to take a view as to whether or not such arrangements are compliant with the regulations,” Trai said in a letter to telecom industry bodies COAI and AUSPI.

While there have been no such deals in recent times, last year, Facebook tied up with Reliance Communications to offer its Free Basics service. The plan was later withdrawn after activists claimed that the service violated the principles of net neutrality, which aims to make access to content on the internet nondiscriminatory.

“Without examining the details of such arrangements, it would not be possible for the authority to give an opinion,” according to the letter.

T he Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) approached Trai to review its decision on discriminatory pricing regulation, and allow telecom operators to provide exclusive content on their network on rates suitable to them for business growth.

Bharti Airtel, too, approached Trai for its view on providing an exclusive video service as the telecom major seeks to steer clear of any possible net neutrality row.

The company said it has been approached by one of the big global content providers to offer video content on exclusive basis over the operator’s network. Trai has rejected permits to such proposals, keeping in line with the principles of net neutrality.

The regulator ruled against discriminatory pricing for different data platforms or content, and said operators cannot enter into pacts with internet companies to subsidise access to some websites.

Companies violating the rules will be fined Rs 50,000 a day for the duration of contravention, subject to a maximum of Rs 50 lakh.

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