Instant messaging should be regulated: Airtel

Summary:With users increasingly turning to OTT messaging applications, India's largest telco is calling for a level playing field to "benefit everybody concerned" by having them be subject to rules and jurisdictions just like carriers.

Instant messaging applications should be subject to some form of regulation and jurisdictions, similar to how telcos are regulated, according to India's biggest mobile carrier Bharti Airtel.

"I think we need a framework by which these companies are subjected to similar jurisdiction... because that will benefit everybody concerned," Bharti Airtel Joint MD and CEO (India operations) Gopal Vittal said, according to PTI.

Vittal pointed out many messaging apps currently operated outside of laws and jurisdictions, which should prompt a debate over a framework overseeing them.

His comments are in line with those of SingTel CEO Chua Sock Koong, who had urged regulators to allow telcos to charge OTT players for riding on their networks in order to get back their return on investment.

Carriers have been facing eroding profit margins as consumers increasingly reduce their usage of traditional voice calls and SMS in favor of free Internet-based services offered by over-the-top players.

Last week, messaging platform WhatsApp announced it would start offering voice services by Q2, putting it in the same space as Viber and Skype. Other chat apps such as WeChat , KakaoTalk and Line have also been rapidly growing their customer base, particularly in Asia, forcing some telcos to come up with their own versions .

Topics: Telcos, Networking, Social Enterprise


Loves caption contests, leisurely strolls along supermarket aisles and watching How It's Made. Ryan has covered finance, politics, tech and sports for TV, radio and print. He is also co-author of best seller "Profit from the Panic". Ryan is an editor at ZDNet's Asia/Singapore office.

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