Who pays for the network?

This caught my eye:

Coai: Levy a usage charge on OTT players for actual traffic on telco network: COAI, Telecom News, ET Telecom

The usage charge will be decided mutually between telcos and OTT Players who must contribute towards creating and developing digital telecom infrastructure in India in exchange for using the services, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said in a letter to department of telecommunications Secretary K Rajaraman.

“Any entity which creates a property or infrastructure by investing funds, is entitled to take usage charges (rent /lease charges, etc.) from the user of that property or infrastructure who uses the same for commercial purposes,” the letter said.

This is a slippery slope. India is coming slowly in the mainstream for policy (and I genuinely hope we develop our institutional capacity rapidly) and not adopt the “European standards”. My concern is that network players are slowly developing the habit of a toll-tax on traffic that passes through their systems.

Today, they demand it from the OTT players, and indirect costs will be transferred to the consumers. They will demand it from the Telemedicine players tomorrow. Who will pay?

Net neutrality has a specific precondition. I don’t think it is appropriate to raise requests as an industry association. The usage charges account for infrastructure costs. They can’t act as gatekeepers for toll-taxation.

Where will it stop then?

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