Airtel recently violated net neutrality and received a heavy backlash for introducing separate tariffs and packs for VoIP services in India. The company has now decided not to implement this new policy, at least not till TRAI issues its consultation paper on Over the Top (OTT) players.
Airtel’s argument is that it has invested over 1,40,000 Crores in building its communication network and has paid over 50,000 crores in terms of government levies in last 5 years. VoIP calls will eat through the company’s revenues in coming future. Telecoms claim a loss of 5,000 Crores per year due to these free messaging and VoIP services from OTT players.
This however is not very convincing as the company will also gain a substantial amount of revenue from increased number of Data users on its network. The Chairman of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) Rahul Khullar recently admitted to Financial Express, that though the move violates principles of net neutrality, it’s not illegal in any way.
Airtel will now wait for the regulatory body to judge what is in the best interest for carriers. “In view of the news reports that a consultation paper will be issued shortly by TRAI on issues relating to services offered by OTT players including VOIP, we have decided not to implement our proposed launch of VoIP packs.
We have no doubt that as a result of the consultation process a balanced outcome would emerge that would not only protect the interests of all stakeholders and viability of this important sector but would also encourage much needed investments in spectrum and roll out of data networks to fulfill the objective of digital India.”
Couple of months back, TRAI rejected the proposal of Carriers to put a fee on OTT players like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, etc. Carrier’s wanted these players which use data via Telecoms, to pay a part of their revenue to government or to carriers, and TRAI found this unreasonable as most of the increased telecom revenue is coming from Data services and is good enough to offset losses.
Letting auditors decide the future of VoIP services seems to be the right way to go ahead.