A proposal is under the works for introducing some form of regulation for communication-based apps by the DoT.
This proposal by the Department of Telecommunications will require these platforms to pay an interconnect usage charge (IUC) to telecom operators.
Whatsapp, Telegram To Pay IUC To Telecom Operators
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is developing a plan to regulate communication-based apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Facetime, and others by requiring them to pay interconnect usage charges (IUCs) to telecom operators in exchange for using their networks.
Such operators may also be charged a nominal, one-time licence or registration fee. However, it’s unclear at this time if these apps would be required to pay a licence fee on a recurring basis as a portion of their adjusted gross revenue (AGR).
According to official sources, the proposal is still in its early stages and discussions are still ongoing. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which is also working on this issue concurrently, will soon release a consultation paper.
The final version of the telecom Bill, which will be introduced during the monsoon session of Parliament, may indicate the intention to enact some sort of regulation; the specific regulations in this regard may be announced at a later time.
As per a government official, “Some kind of provisions will be mentioned in the telecom Bill to make communication-based OTT apps liable to pay to an extent they use the telecom network.”
He also said that Trai will recommend the course of action on the regulations.
What Are Interconnection Fees?
Currently, the concept of a carriage charge is used in the telecom industry as a component of interconnection fees (IUC).
Only starting in January 2021, when traffic between the three operators more or less evened out, was the termination charge, a fee paid by the calling network to the operator whose network the call terminates, discontinued.
This levy is currently operating under the bill-and-keep principle. But the carriage charge, another interconnection component, is still in place. Operators in this case pay the national long-distance carrier a fee for transferring calls between circles.