TRAI seeks opinion to allow telcos Internet telephony

By : |June 4, 2016 0

You may soon be able to make calls over the Internet from your very own telecom service providers, than depend on over-the-top apps like Skype and Watsapp, if the telecom regulator gives a go-ahead. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) plans to float a consultation process in this regard, to allow telcos the option to offer voice calls over the Internet, bringing them at par with other calling apps.

Currently, telecom service providers can operate only under a legitimate licence, and are not allowed to provide internet telephony, or voice over IP (VoIP). “This is a situation of regulatory imbalance,” TRAI Chairman RS Sharma said.

Services such and that of Skype and Watsapp offer Internet-based calls at sharply lower costs than telcos, which also pinched revenues for them. India’s largest telco, Bharti Airtel in December 2014 had announced its decision to charge such calls separately, which triggered a national debate on net neutrality. The telco was subsequently forced to withdraw the plan.

                                 

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This move is in line with global practices, where telcos are permitted to provide VoIP, including EU and US. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of US requires all OTT players to comply with requirements considered comparable to those for telcos.

Sharma also informed that TRAI is dedicated to the task of tackling the issue of net neutrality, and will hope to get valuable inputs from industry leaders and participants on the same through the consultation process started on Monday. Net neutrality is a concept that guarantees free and equal access to the Internet for all.

“Today, internet is extremely important for the development of our country, and we have a fast developing startup ecosystem, for governance, banking, health, education. If you don’t have a clear separation between the network and content, we will create a mess. And if today we don’t tackle that mess, this mess will acquire its own momentum and then tomorrow it will be very difficult to tackle it,” Sharma said.

The telecom apex body is exploring technology, which will be telco-agnostic platform or an arrangement or a facility, where a content provider can offer its product for free and can attract a consumer for some incentive. The move will seek to reinstate the principles of discriminatory pricing.

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