Amid telcos stepping up demand to regulate OTT players like Whatsapp and Skype, Hike Messenger founder Kavin Mittal, son of telecom czar Sunil Bharti Mittal, today opposed the proposed regulation, saying people buy data to use such services.
Over-the-top (OTT) players such as Hike, which also become the second largest messaging app in India with 70 million users, use internet to offer voice and messaging services to consumers.
“The best part of the internet is that it is not at all regulated, else we cannot come out with an update every 7.5 days…As long as we have that, we are fine,” Mittal said during an event to announce new features for the application.
He said OTT players actually benefit telecom operators as people consume more data because of their services. “The reason people buy data packs is to consume internet services offered by OTT players…if we were not there, people would not be buying data,” he added.
In July this year, a Department of Telecom (DoT) panel had proposed regulation of domestic calls by OTT applications by putting them on par with services offered by telecom operators.
In line with demand from telecom operators, the panel had also recommended that OTT players should be brought under regulation to comply with national security norms like telecom operators in the country do.
Meanwhile, speaking about Hike, Mittal said the application has crossed 70 million users in September and the company would start monetising the platform in 12-18 months. He added it is being evaluated if advertising and transactions models will be used for monetisation.
The company today launched another feature for the application which allows users to share data and files without internet connectivity within a radius of 100 meters.
Sharing an example, Mittal said exchanging 100 MB of data would take less than 10 seconds on Hike Direct without incurring any charges. The new feature will be available to Android users having 4.0.6 version. It will be available for iOS and Windows users next year.
Mittal said on an average, a user on Hike spends over 140 minutes per week and 20 billion messages are being exchanged per month by the consumers. Hike was launched in December 2012 and it has raised USD 86 million from Tiger Global and BSB till date.