TRAI which is the telecom regulatory of India has revealed that it’s in processor to prepare a regulatory framework for VoIP and IM applications. Services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber amongst others which are very popular in the country could end up paying revenue to telecom operators as a result of this.
The Times of India is reporting citing PTI as its source that the TRAI has already released a consultation paper on a regulatory framework for OTT (over the top) services. Of course, the final verdict is yet to be decided and it will take more than a few months, so companies like WhatsApp and Viber can breathe easy for now.
It was back in August of last year that the TRAI refused to regulate OTT services and it was also noted that no consultation process will be started on the subject. Clearly, the tables have turned now and there’s no reason as to why the telecom regulatory is looking to take action. TSPs and OTTs have been in a headlock for quite a long time now over the matter.
The former claims that IM and VoIP services are eating into their revenue as traditional commutation such as text messaging and calling are slowing disappearing. On the other hand, OTT services depend on data networks which in return boost internet sales from network providers.
A few months back, Airtel decided to take matters into its own hands by launching special deals for users to access OTT services. This basically meant that you’d be charged normal data usage fees (not from your monthly allowance) when using apps like WhatsApp and Viber, unless you purchased these special deals. Of course, things didn’t sit well with customers and the TRAI also stepped in to investigate.
If the TRAI does plan to impose regulations on OTT services, apps like WhatsApp, Skype and more could end up paying TSPs big bucks.