A government panel has given its nod to inter-connect agreements between Internet service providers and telecom operators. The approval will allow users to make calls to landline numbers or mobile numbers through VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber, and vice versa. The decision follows the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendations of removing restriction of interconnection at IP level. Also Read - WhatsApp beta for iOS reveals changes, here's what users might getAlso Read - How to temporarily deactivate/permanently delete WhatsApp account
The regulator in its recommendations points out that the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012 had also envisaged unified licensing regime, and addressing the requirement of non-discriminatory interconnection including at the IP levels.
The regulator also highlights clause 27.3 of Unified License that deals with interconnection between the networks for carrying circuit switched traffic. The clause states interconnection between IP based network through a Media Gateway Switch , but does not mention interconnection between two licensees at the IP levels, ToI reports. The latest move will also pave way for modification in the Unified License regulations.
The decision is going to be highly beneficial for end users as they may use data for voice calling, which has been so far restricted to app-to-app only. But at the same time slow Internet speed may be a huge hurdle for this. For agencies it poses a new set of challenges to monitor and regularize Internet calls.
Operators, on the other hand, may not be pleased with the decision considering they have already been atloggerheads with OTT service providers over the issue of VoIP calls. The operators have long demanded regularization of OTT services, which they claim have caused major revenue losses.
The move may particularly jolt Reliance Jio, which is expected to launch 4G LTE including VoLTE services next month. Voice over 4G network has been touted as one of the USPs of Jio s 4G services. The service will though remain exclusive for Jio s 4G users as other operators are unlikely to launch the same any time sooner. But the latest decision on inter-connect agreements will enable users on any other network to make and receive VoIP calls.
In a related development, the inter-ministerial panel Telecom Commission also approved the proposal for virtual network operators, allowing them to offer voice and data services under their own brands without owning network or spectrum. Under this set up, VNOs don t need to buy spectrum but lease bandwidth from various telecom operators to provide voice and data services to customers.