Low-cost calling service Ringo has said that telecom operators including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Aircel are not providing it interconnect points for launch of internet telephony services that will reduce the cost of voice calls by over 60 per cent.
Ringo, through its group company VMobi, had obtained a telecom service provider (TSP) licence for access services in February for Mumbai circle and has applied for the remaining 21 circles in the country. "Ringo has obtained the technology and licences for the service over six months ago, but various telecom operators including Vodafone, Airtel, and Idea have not been providing interconnections to VMobi that are critical for Ringo to launch its services," Bhavin Turakhia, founder and chief executive, Ringo, said.
Ringo's new call flow makes use of the internet or the phone's data connection to allow a user to make calls to anyone anywhere in the country over regular Public Switched Telephone Network lines.
Turakhia said Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, and Aircel had said they would provide inter-connection only "if we do not start internet telephony, which has been allowed by the government in 2008". "We have agreed to pay inter-connection usage charge prevailing under law, but still they are not giving us interconnect points to start our service," he said.
Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio had similar issues with Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea on the number of interconnect points.
"Over the past six months, VMobi has been in constant touch with these operators seeking interconnections. However, these players have made repeated attempts to restrict the company's scope of service and to prevent the launch of Internet Telephony, by including restrictive clauses in the agreements that VMobi has attempted to sign with them," he said.
The Ringo CEO said Airtel and Vodafone have incorporated some common clause and are asking for Rs 11 lakh bank guarantee for every E1 and there can be around 500-600 E1s at one PoI. This they will provide only after we agree to not start Internet telephony.
"No telecom operator has signed this kind of agreement and even these two operators have not signed such agreement among themselves."
Ringo has also approached Telecom Regulatory Authority of India regarding the matter and expects this issue to be resolved in 3-4 weeks.
"We have put in Rs 7.5 crore for unified licence and we will be paying another Rs 7.5 crore for pan-India permit. Also, we have provided Rs 264 crore as bank guarantee to DoT and will invest Rs 65-70 crore on infrastructure," Turakhia said.
Ringo had launched a mobile calling service in November 2015, which was later put on hold after telecom operators complained against it. The app offered voice calls at nearly 90 per cent cheaper rates than telecom operators.