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Telecommunication companies seeking compliance from OTT texting platforms

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In Short:

Indian telecom operators feel that there is an imbalance between them and OTT texting apps like WhatsApp as the latter do not have to meet regulatory compliances. The industry body COAI, representing major telcos, wants a level playing field. COAI is working with the government to address unsolicited commercial communications using Blockchain technology. The government has allocated series for voice calls and will now require explicit consumer consent for commercial messages to reduce cyber fraud.


Indian Telecom Operators Push for Regulatory Parity with OTT Texting Platforms

The Indian telecom operators, represented by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) which includes Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea (Vi), are urging for a level playing field with OTT (over-the-top) texting platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram when it comes to meeting regulatory compliances.

Background

COAI has previously raised concerns about the lack of regulatory requirements for OTT apps, unlike telecom operators who have to adhere to strict regulations. Despite previous requests, the government decided not to regulate OTT platforms under the new telecom act of 2023.

Addressing Unsolicited Commercial Communications

COAI is actively working with the government and regulators to tackle the issue of Unsolicited Commercial Communications (UCC). The Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR) introduced in 2018 aims to curb UCC using Blockchain – Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

Consumer Consent and Regulatory Measures

The government has designated the 140 series for promotional voice calls and the 160 series for transactional and service voice calls. Businesses will now require explicit consumer consent to send commercial communications, reducing UCC and addressing cyber fraud concerns.

Call for Regulatory Parity

SP Kochhar, Director General of COAI, emphasized the need for authorities to ensure regulatory parity between telecom service providers and messaging platforms to create a fair playing field in compliance requirements.

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