The Internet & Mobile Association of India stated in a statement released on Friday that it was shocked by the regressive and demeaning nature of the debate about how to regulate the digital economy. Part of the telecommunications network business has sought to restart conversations that threaten to destroy the success the Indian IT industry has made so far, which runs counter to the government’s declared goal of building a 1 trillion dollar digital economy.
According to statistics provided by the Union Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), India’s digital economy has expanded significantly in the past decade, & now contributes over $200 billion annually to the country’s GDP. The separation of transport and content laws has been crucial to this expansion. India has allowed both OTT and conventional telecommunication service providers to flourish by regulating carriage & content independently. This tendency may be seen in India, where over a hundred unicorns have been created in recent years. Even though India has experienced meteoric growth, allowing it to surge into the role of global start-up hub, its recently closed discussion on the Draft Telecom Bill exposes either a willful misreading or a fundamental lack of knowledge of how the digital economy operates.
With the Draft Telecom Bill in mind, a group that represents the telecom infrastructure industry has advocated for the inclusion of revenue-sharing mechanisms for the “Over the Top” (OTT) Layer. The results of such a decision would be terrible and far-reaching. Over-the-top service provider license requirements pose an existential danger to India’s startup environment because they raise the bar so high for new businesses to get started. Aspiring Indian start-ups that are still building their business & monetisation models would face significant compliance expenses in their infancy, while international investors bullish on Indian start-ups would feel a chilling impact due to the drastic regulatory uncertainty.
Despite this, some policy experts persist in spreading false hopes about equitable contributions from OTT layer stakeholders, which would appear to reinforce the gatekeeping abilities of the owners of the underlying infrastructure layer on which OTT services rely. These alterations would create new revenue streams for existing industries while leaving the startup ecosystem subject to compliance costs before any revenue is generated.
Concerns regarding the effects on India’s start-up ecosystem and digital economy were voiced by IAMAI in a letter to the DoT. IAMAI also aimed to showcase the successes of the current regulatory framework, which have allowed India to dream of a digital economy worth $1 trillion and have resulted in the birth of 100+ unicorns and $200+ billion in growth.