In a move that is likely to bring down voice calling charges further, sectoral regulator the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has clarified that internet telephony — including voice calling — can be provided by telecom operators using any internet connection and not just through their own networks.
The clarification by Trai will allow telcos, who have got access service licence or unified licence, to offer VoIP (voice over IP) calls using any internet connection. The calls can be made to all mobile and landline numbers and the current interconnect charges will apply, which is 6 paisa for wireless calls and nothing for landline calls.
The move is going to benefit customers, as call charges are likely to come down to as low as 6-8 paisa per minute as the calls will be made over the internet, where the cost is negligible. Users don’t need to take a new number for internet telephony
as calls can be made using the current number. As per an official in Trai, internet telephony
was allowed in the country since 2008 but mobile operators did not launch services as it was competing with their voice business. The interpretation of internet telephony
was not correct by the telecom
operators, which stated that it was allowed only on their own networks. In its bid to understand the reason for failure for take-off of internet telephony
in India, Trai came out with a consultation paper last year and after getting responses from all stakeholders and seeing the licence conditions, it clarified that internet telephony
service is un-tethered from access network, which means the service can be provided by an operator to its subscribers who may be using internet of other operator.
The regulator further said Department of Telecommunications (DoT) should issue a clarification in this regard and if DoT has a different understanding, Trai recommends that an amendment may be issued to access service licences so that internet telephony
service is un-tethered from the underlying access network.
“Trai in its recommendations issued today, on Internet Telephony
has stated that, Internet Telephony
service is un-tethered from the underlying access network. In this regard, the position of COAI and its members has been, that, internet telephony
can only be provided by a licensee using its own access network,” Rajan S Mathews, DG COAI said. He added 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 members are still studying the recommendations, and we will be appropriately representing on these issues with all the relevant stakeholders,” he said.
enables customers to make calls to any phone number in the country over the Internet at one-third the current calling rates. Through internet telephony, users can also make calls over WiFi in bad signal areas. The voice call charges have been coming down in the country ever since Reliance Jio
launched its services last year offering free calling. The incumbent operators too were forced to come out with plans giving voice free.
“Trai has released recommendations on VoIP services by telecom
service providers. Fundamentally, it clearly spells out that internet telephony
services can be provided by any access provider to the subscribers using internet which will be un-tethered, which means that a service can be provided on internet connection which may be provided by other service provider,” Trai Secretary S K Gupta told Business Standard.
Trai has also recommended that virtual network operators (UL) with access service authorization should also be allowed to provide VoIP service in the designated service areas. Another Trai official said as the calls will be terminated on the exchanges of telecom
operators, so they can be tracked for security reasons. Internet telephony
has been another battlefront between Reliance Jio
and other incumbent operators. Jio was supporting unrestricted internet telephony
whereas incumbents were of the view it should be allowed only by them on their networks.