Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or TRAI had a meeting yesterday regarding the economic impact of free messaging and calling apps such as WhatsApp and Viber on the overall telecom industry.
Details of the meeting are not yet out, but insiders are claiming that TRAI may charge a ‘connecting fees’ from these free apps for using telecom bandwidth without actually being ‘connected’ with the telecom industry.
As per rough estimates, telecom companies in India are losing Rs 5000 crore per year due to the immense popularity of these free apps. Further research estimates that this loss may expand upto Rs 16400 crore in the next 2-3 years as user base of such free mobile apps is continuing to soar, backed by millions of dollars of venture capital.
Users have literally ditched SMS services provided by telecom companies as average SMS being sent by Indians have fallen to an all time low of 2 per day. Yesterday we had reported how a free mobile app called Nanu can disrupt this industry further, as users can call international landline numbers with super clarity.
Such free mobile apps use Internet to carry voice and textual messages, thereby by-passing telecom infrastructure (besides Internet) and incurring them losses. And, there is security aspect as well, as all such calls and messages cannot be monitored.
As per a senior official with Department of Telecommunications (DOT), “We may be asking them to put their servers in India as they get connected to any telecom network in India without getting themselves registered that is something which is also a security concern for us,”
As per insiders, almost all telecom companies who have paid thousands of crores to get 2G and 3G licenses have appealed to TRAI to make amendments to their rules so that these free mobile apps pay connectivity charges to them.
Talks are also on to regulate such OTTs (over the top) providers of free messages and calls so that government also receive revenue from their profits. Interesting thing is, none of these free mobile applications have openly announced their plan to monetize the millions of users they have.
We will keep you updated as we receive more information on this new connectivity charges for mobile apps.
Do you think that Government should charge these free mobile apps companies for providing free messaging and calling services? Do let us know your views by commenting right here!