August 19th, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has the kind of mission statement Google can relate to -- the Indian telecom regulator's stated mission is "to create and nurture conditions for the growth of the telecommunications industry in the country in a manner and at a pace which will enable India to play a leading role as an emerging global information society." Google's mission also places emphasis on information and its ability to empower individuals, and we welcome TRAI's focus on the creation of an information society.
While India and its users have been a focus of Google for some time (check out Google Labs for India, for instance), we are certainly new to TRAI and telecommunications policy in the world's largest democracy. Of late, though, via two written submissions to the regulator, we've developed some initial points of view regarding what it might take to further the climate of innovation in India -- especially in the wireless world.
Our latest submission came in response to a recent TRAI consultation paper on what the regulator calls the "Growth of Mobile Value Added Services." It will not surprise readers of this blog to know that our comments centered on the need for public policy in this area to focus on openness, transparency, interoperability, and innovation.
It's clear that the mobile phone will continue to be the primary way hundreds of millions of Indians access information -- and it's imperative that public policy in this area work backwards from a future environment in which thousands of Indian entrepreneurs are creating valuable mobile-phone-based services for Indian users. We thank TRAI for its open consultation on this issue - including last month's widely-attended open house in New Delhi - and hope the regulator finds our submission useful.
Earlier this year, we also submitted comments in response to a TRAI consultation on "Internet telephony." In this submission, we primarily discuss why it is important for the government to lift a rule which presently prohibits Indian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from providing Internet telephony to and from telephones connected to India's PSTN / PLMN. We are happy to see that TRAI's recent recommendations on this issue are broadly aligned with our submission and are also happy to see that the Government's Department of Telecommunications has welcomed TRAI's primary recommendations; like TRAI, we at Google believe that VoIP in India has the potential to drive the perceived utility and actual use of broadband services.
Given the regulator's ambitious and important mission, we anticipate many future overlaps between Google and TRAI. For now, though, we thank the regulator for considering our views and hope that TRAI continues to recommend public policy with an eye towards an India that values both information and innovation.