Telecom operators could soon start offering voice calling through their apps, allowing users to make voice calls over the internet. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended rules which encourage telecom operators to offer voice services over the internet and compete with the likes of WhatsApp, Skype and Google Duo.
TRAI has suggested that rules are meant for the license holders and virtual network operators that buy bulk minutes from telecom operators for offering services. Users will have a choice whether to use regular voice calling or app-based service for making voice calls over the internet.
However, the telecom industry says these rules require more clarity on several issues, including the IUC (Interconnection Usage Charges). To clarify, IUC is the charge which one operator pays to another on whose network the call is being received.
TRAI says that existing IUC of 6 paise a minute should also apply on internet telephony as well as these calls are also like any other voice call. Other rules such as linking with mobile numbers, lawful interception, monitoring the calls and keeping call records should also apply equally to internet telephony calls.
Moreover, telecom operators can levy charges on internet calls as well according to a report on Economic Times, citing a senior industry official. The report also added that service providers would have to inform consumers about the quality of service parameters they will get over internet telephony.
Commenting on the matter Rajan Mathews, Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said,
“The subject of internet telephony involves important issues such as the need for an underlying access network, separate numbering series, Interconnection, network security etc., which still need to be addressed. Our stated position has been that internet telephony can only be provided by a licensee using its own access network.”
TRAI further backed its recommendations suggesting that internet telephony services lead to revenue loss for telecom operators. As voice calls generate about 80% of telecom operator’s revenue. TRAI also said that technology has enabled operators to provide internet calling through smartphone through an app, and that can increase revenue as well from data services due to increased Internet traffic.