Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is working on a framework through which it is hoping to be able to regulate mobile apps and OTT (Over the Top) services such as Whatsapp, Viber, Skype etc, we have checked with sources at the regulatory body.
Sources tell us that PTA has constituted a committee that is working on the said framework to be shared with stakeholders including telecom operators as soon as it is ready.
The committee has been tasked to formulate recommendations through which OTT services, mainly the mobile apps, will be brought under regulation in Pakistan.
PTA said that all efforts for getting a framework for regulating OTT are driven by Telecom Policy 2015, that MoIT approved and issued late last year.
For those who don’t know, Telecom Policy 2015 stated that Pakistan will make it mandatory for certain mobile apps to get NOC (No Objection Certificate) from PTA in order to operate in Pakistan.
Also Read: An Overview of Telecom Policy 2015
Telecom Policy 2015 had said that the framework will enable Pakistani government to make sure that such mobile apps are inline with our national interests and also that they don’t hurt telecom sector’s (operators) interest.
It is feared that PTA may ask certain apps to grant the government access to be able to operate in Pakistan. It is also likely that government may grant NOC only after charging a license fee from these OTT services.
However, just to be very clear, nothing can be said with certainty until we have the final recommendations from the committee.
Regulating mobile apps is a rare phenomena as they go unregulated all across the world, except few instances when app developers are asked by the governments to follow special instructions, but again it’s very rare and happens only when Government asks the tech companies in a tactical manner.
Not to be mentioned, Mobile phone operators would ideally want OTT services to be regulated. They are clearly not pleased with the way OTT services have been eating up their share.
“We would want it, definitely, but how will they do it?”, commented a CEO of a mobile company when we asked about his thoughts on the regulation.
New regulatory framework may also incorporate revenue sharing arrangements between local licensees (telcos for instance) and OTT players (WhatsApp, Skype, Viber etc), for offering differentiated version of the services (free and paid) so that licensed businesses could enter into mutual agreements with OTT service providers to monetize OTT service delivery on mutually agreed terms.
Government of Pakistan’s efforts in this regards are seemingly very ambitious as this hasn’t happened anywhere in the world as of yet, at the governmental scale at least.
But since Pakistan and PTA have a history of doing “World’s First”, let’s see what do they come up with.