A revised draft of the telecommunication bill is reportedly expected to be introduced by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in less than a month. The bill is expected to address the concerns brought up by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting regarding regulating the content of over-the-top (OTT) apps and broadcasting services.
For the unversed, on September 22, 2022, DoT published the draft of the Indian Telecommunication Bill 2022.
As per a report by the Economic Times, the revised draft of the telecom bill will clear up any confusion regarding the apps that DoT will oversee. The bill is expected to clarify its objective, which is to regulate the communication apps that provide the same services as telecom operators.
Since there is no clear definition of an app in the latest draft, as per the report, there are worries that all types of apps, including food aggregators and streaming services, may be subject to regulation by the telecom department.
As per the report, broadcasting services, such as community radio stations, up-linking and downlinking of TV channels, DTH, IPTV services, and FM radio broadcasting through private agencies, have been mentioned as entities requiring licences under Schedule 2 of the draft bill. According to officials, as per the report, the I&B ministry shared its feedback on the draft and brought up the issues in front of the telecom department.
"The revised bill will clearly define which aspect of broadcast services - those using a telecom network - will be regulated. Other types of broadcasting services such as DTH and TV channels will be excluded," the Economic Times quoted one of the officials, as saying.
DoT is reportedly discussing the framework to regulate OTT communication apps like WhatsApp and Signal even though the problems with broadcasting and content OTTs have been resolved. As per the report, the department has not yet decided whether these apps need a licence or only a registration.