In response to the rapidly evolving landscape of Over the Top (OTT) services, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has crafted a comprehensive draft OTT Regulatory Framework.
The PTA, after engaging in thorough internal and external consultations, has submitted the draft to the federal government for approval.
The proposed framework, outlined in a document by the PTA, grants the authority the ability to establish robust OTT Services Regulations. This includes the capacity to periodically review and adapt to industry changes, ensuring effective oversight of OTT services. This proactive stance reflects the PTA’s commitment to managing the challenges presented by the dynamic OTT industry.
According to the PTA, the telecommunications sector is currently undergoing a significant paradigm shift, primarily due to the increasing prevalence of OTT services. These services deliver content or applications to users over the public Internet, bypassing traditional network providers. The proliferation of broadband and smart devices has empowered OTT providers to directly compete with licensed services such as voice, video, and messaging.
The ensuing competition has raised concerns about the economic impact, competitive implications, and regulatory considerations surrounding OTT services. Notably, the popularity of these services stems from their cost-effectiveness and innovative revenue generation models, creating an imbalance with traditional telecom services.
The PTA acknowledges that the convergence of telecom and broadcasting services on OTT platforms has blurred the lines between these sectors, making it challenging to differentiate between the two under existing laws. To address this, the draft framework proposes a responsibility matrix aimed at managing and facilitating OTT services.
OTT services, as defined by the PTA, encompass applications and services accessible over the internet that ride on operators’ networks offering internet access services.
These include three primary categories: Communications, Video Content, and Application Ecosystem. The exponential growth of OTT services has raised national policy issues related to regulatory imbalances and security concerns, all of which are meticulously addressed in the proposed regulatory framework.
The PTA asserts its commitment to preparing OTT service regulations, taking into consideration public safety, privacy issues, and the national interest. This move reflects the authority’s dedication to fostering a regulatory environment that ensures the balanced growth and sustainability of the telecommunications industry in Pakistan.