Kavin Mittal, CEO of Hike Messenger, has come out strongly against any kind of regulation for over-the-top (OTT) tools like his app. His stance comes out amidst increasing demands by telecom operators to license calls made through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Mittal feels there is no need to force guidelines on OTT companies, as such services are the reason people buy data from network providers in the first place. He believes that brands benefit and give relevance to the operators, adding that people would not access internet services if it weren’t for applications like Hike.
The CEO thinks the pace of innovation would slow down if regulations are imposed upon OTT players. He cited the example of Hike, stating the tool would not be able to release updates every 7.5 days if they were under a licensing regime. According to the Times of India, he also said the best part about the internet was that it wasn’t controlled by anyone.
Telecom providers have a different take on the issue. Brands like Bharti Airtel suggest government oversight is necessary for the concerned apps. The company’s MD, Gopal Vittal, spoke at a forum organized by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) recently, stating there should be a more level-playing field between the two sides.
Even the Department of Telecom (DoT) is seemingly on the side of network operators. The authority’s net neutrality report asserted that OTT companies have an unfair advantage, as they do not have to follows licensing laws and fees like those levied on telecom brands. As a result, the committee suggested domestic VoIP services should be regulated, while letting international calls off the hook.
Kavin Mittal went on to explain that Hike was experiencing a growth of 100% in terms of new customer acquisition and had 70 million subscribers currently. He plans to begin monetizing the app within 12 to 18 months.