Facebook joins Cellular Operators Association of India

Facebook, the internet giant has now become an associate member of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). The association primarily represents GSM telcos such as Idea Cellular, Vodafone India and Bharti Airtel.

According to Ankhi Das, public policy director- India & South Asia, Facebook, joining COAI as an associate member will reflect the company’s focus on mobile technologies, access and their continued desire to work in collaboration with the industry in order to increase connectivity.

The association also represents telecom equipment manufacturers and other communication products and services companies in India.

This announcement has been made at a time when the Indian telcos are lobbying with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)  so as to regulate over-the-top (OTT) service providers, such as Facebook, Viber and Whatsapp.

The Telcos main complaint is that the OTT players make use of their own network and end up earning money from subscribers. They don’t pay a single penny to the mobile operators in this process.

In response to this, OTT players contest that the internet facility should be free for all, without any restrictions. They also support “net neutrality”.

A seminar was conducted by TRAI on Monday in order to discuss a probable framework for OTT services. The seminar also discussed key issues related to impact of these OTT on telecom service providers and their counter measure, regulatory and legal framework for OTT.

This was an initial discussion which could result in bringing OTT providers and companies of apps under a regulatory framework.  The OTT players might even end up paying the connectivity charges to telecom companies and share revenue with the government as well.

According to Rajan S Mathews, director general at COAI, social networking has changed the way in which Indians play, work, communicate, do business and socialize. He also thinks that Facebook’s active participation in the association’s activities could result in mutual value addition and bring synergy of functioning between the content/VAS players and the service providers.

Facebook, the social networking giant currently has 1.32 billion monthly active users globally out of which 100 billion are Indians.

The association’s associate members are the ones who manufacture or support the functioning, research development, promotion and evolution of mobile communication services.

 

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