Indian telcos are asking for a fee to deliver content hosted by Internet companies such as Google and Facebook, and they want the government to introduce legislation to support this.
Vodafone India CEO Marten Pieters told The Hindu in a report Monday that Google, and other content providers, should pay connectivity charges to telcos, and called for this to be formalized in regulation.
"It's a strange business model at present where telecom operators invest huge amounts of money to upgrade data networks, and players like YouTube [hosted by Google], which gets the revenue, don't pay anything," Pieters told The Hindu at this week's Mobile World Conference in Barcelona.
He echoed the views of India's biggest telco Bharti Airtel. In a July 2012 report by The Hindu, Jagbir Singh, director of network services group at Bharti Airtel, said: "Network is capital-intensive. We have to pay for spectrum and voice revenue is coming down. At the same time, companies like Google, which have not invested more than a few billion dollars, are enjoying valuations that are 10 times that of a traditional telecom player."
These demands were floated in 2010 by European telcos and recently have risen to a chorus of dissent. Last December, this was given a voice by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations telco arm, which sought to push forward revisions in the International Telecommunication Regulations to regulate the Internet. The vote was approved by 89 member states, while 55 countries including the United States and India refused to sign the treaty.
Earlier this month, U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner Robert McDowell told Congress the free and open Internet was under attack. He said the ITU proposals empowered foreign phone companies to charge internationally mandated fees to global content and application providers. "Ultimately this will be paid for by all Internet consumers, with the goal of generating revenue for foreign government treasuries," McDowell said.