Airtel has asked TRAI to recommend a framework under which the telecom operators are not deprived in terms of their voice call earnings against the developing competition from free internet based calling applications such as Skype and Viber. As reported by PTI, Airtel stated that, “We believe there should be some kind of framework where we are not disadvantaged in terms of our core source of revenue and that is the context in which consultation will hopefully take place.”
In December last year, the telco introduced a scheme to charge separately for the voice calls made with the help of internet by mobile applications like Skype, Viber and Line called over-the-top (OTT) players. As per thr nre plan, usage of each GB of data for VoIP on 3G network would have amounted to about Rs 4,000 and Rs 10,000 on 2G network. But, due to the huge criticism the company rolled back its plan.
Airtel stated that, contribution of VoIP (in company’s revenue) at this point of time is very tiny so it not really material as we look at it. There is arbitrage between voice pricing and data pricing. As an operator we are expected to roll out network, incur capex-opex. The company further added, the reality is that there is a bunch of innovation that is happening in the Internet eco-system and that is why we are in business in terms of growth of mobile internet.
TRAI is also expected to discuss the various issues around the OTT players business like security and legal interception of services. The regulator has also indicated that they will take necessary steps for lawful intercept and host of other regulatory issues.