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TRAI Wants Free Calls By Apps To Be Regulated Under A Framework

On one hand, internet telephony is eroding profits of telecom operators, the increased data consumption is adding to them.

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TRAI Wants To Regulate Calling Apps

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or TRAI is right now examining and understanding the free calls made by messenger apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger.

Reports are emerging that a regulatory framework would be soon formed, which will monitor and examine these free calls.

Free Calls By Apps Should Be Same As Normal Calls?

In their observation, which seems being pushed by telecom operators, TRAI has said that free calls by messenger apps should be ‘routed’ the same way as normal calls are routed, and regulations would be soon announced regarding the same.

In fact, the same rules and regulations are now being proposed for international calls as well.

As per TRAI, if any international calls is made via messenger app, then the call should be routed via international gateway to the network where the call is made, so that the process follows the same route  which a normal voice call makes, using telecom’s existing network.

In their report, TRAI said,

“In case the access provider is not able to ensure that Internet Telephony call originated outside of the country is coming through ILDO (international long distance operator) gateway, international out-roaming to internet telephony subscribers of the access provider should not be allowed.”

Note here, that the new regulation to be imposed by TRAI would be based on recommendations made by Department of Telecom or DoT on a suo moto basis, and, would be applicable to only those service providers or mobile virtual network operators (or MVNOs) which have valid licenses to offer telephony services.

And, here is the catch, because apps which are providing free calls don’t have such license.

Does this mean that these apps won’t be able to offer free calls now?

Internet Telephony: The Bone Of Contention

No doubt free calls from messengers have eroded profits of telecom operators, as users are now using these apps for making calls, but it has also increased data consumption of telecom users, which means more profits for telecom operators.

But the issue of Internet telephony has been the bone of contention for both, apps and telcos.

Besides, there are other issues as well, which needs attention and debate, as rightly pointed out by COAI.

Cellular Operators Association of India’s director general Rajan Mathews 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,”

Even Jio’s free calls was questioned by TRAI, as issue of interconnect usage charges was not sorted. However, later, Jio was given clean chit.

In 2015, TRAI proposed regulation of OTT players such as WhatsApp and other messengers, as it was eating away telecom operators’ revenues and profits. However, the regulation and framework never came, because Jio’s tsunami had arrived after a year, and things changed drastically.

This year in April, the debate over regulation of apps again picked up pace, and in fact, TRAI has also made it clear that they want to regulate Cloud services market in India as well.

We will keep you updated as receive more updates.

  1. Arun says

    Apps did the thing what ever Telcos not focused. In a greedy way Telcos think that don’t want to lose revenue. Want to suck money as much possible as they can from a user. In fact i must say Telcos never want to make user comfortable. Whats app tsunami made telcos to lose SMS revenue. Skype and other video call apps made them to lose audio and video calls revenue. Wonder when they will realize the fact that they can not stop this change. If any Telco company introduced a messaging service like Whatsapp before, if they did that every one could have used their app instead of Whatsapp. Telcos rigid minds are there enemy. Its better for them to focus on the solutions where user feel more comfortable than present services like whatsapp in market. If internet calls will not be free they will face huge backlash from net users. No one is ready to bear those foolish acts.

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