insightVAS breaks barriers between Operators and VAS players with a Panel Discussion on MVAS Licensing & Short Code Council
By insightVAS - Fri Jun 15, 10:20 am
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New Delhi, June 14, 2012:- TRAI released recommendations on application services and on 14th June – exactly a month later, insightVAS brought together VAS players & TSPs in a unique one of its kind discussion. While diverse views were aired, there were some common threads and patterns. Many ASPs spoke in favour of regulation since they felt that it would at least help in addressing their issues in a formal manner. Some VAS players felt that regulation and licensing would only complicate matters further. There was a suggestion of appointing super aggregators who would form a bridge between TSPs and ASPs – as in case of MNP.
Shri R.N. Prabhakar, Former Member, TRAI, cautioned that we should not fall into the trap, as was experienced in case of spectrum. He said the need of the hour was to ensure that innovative services are developed, customers get value for money and do not feel cheated and to some extent services are standardised across TSPs. Shri S.C. Sharma, GM-VAS, BSNL, opinioned that regulation was bound to stunt growth and pace of innovation and that it would be better to take care of issues without regulation.
A number of interesting and useful aspects emerged from the panel discussion on Recommendation on MVAS Licensing & Short Code Council organised by insightVAS today at Le Meridien, New Delhi. Some common views that cut across the operator and VAS community are that TRAI cannot be both the executive & the judiciary. Another unanimous voice heard during the fruitful discussion today was that global super brands such as Google and Facebook exist today since they did not have to face any licensing hurdles. Since new VAS is being ideated and created on a daily basis, it is felt that having to run to TRAI everyday for licensing could kill creativity. Mr. Ajay Vaishnavi, Director Telecom, Indiatimes opined that the recommendations on short Codes have come “too little, too late” and moreover, revenue from short codes has come down substantially. He said currently billing system was the biggest concern and what is really required is a framework towards open access and a rate card for off deck services. Some other ideas generated were creation of a website by Department of Telecommunications to coordinate allocation of short codes.
Mr. Sanjay K. Goyal, CEO & Founder, ACL Mobile felt that white label or ondeck services were already licensed since they were disseminated by the TSPs and it was the offdeck services which were of higher potential and where attention was required. He also suggested that more than the licensing fee, safeguards such as the bank guarantee would matter more to regulate.
The tussle between TSPs and ASPs over the revenue sharing was evident at the panel discussion too. Mr. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CMD & Founder, One97 voiced that no regulation was involved in starting a payment gateway. However most agreed that unlike TSPs, ISPs do not have to pay spectrum, licensing and other charges to the Govt. Reasons for low revenue share for ASPs in India vis-a-vis other countries were analysed and it was inferred that VAS services were relatively lower on the evolution curve and also the ARPU was lower at Rs 80 in India. Mr. Vikram Tiwathia, Associate Director General, COAI invited all VAS players to come and discuss possible solutions for working together like a family and then have a consolidated dialogue with TRAI and DOT. He said he would like to see more innovation on vernacular data services, for example today it is difficult to access land records info in say Tamil.
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