The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has rejected the proposal of telecommunication companies to charge fee from users of WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and other apps.
The Trai announced that it will not hold any consultation process on this matter, adding that the telcos are able to offset their losses through growth in data revenue.
The companies had told Trai that the industry would suffer a minimum annual loss of Rs 5,000 crore due to subscribers opting for free messenger services and voice over Internet calls. “One-third of the incremental revenue of the telecom industry is coming from data services itself. As far as the voice services are concerned, there is an upswing in the realisation rates,” a Trai official told ET.
“There is no proposal for a consultation paper (on regulating companies offering free messaging and calling services),” he added.
The service providers in India want over the-top-players (OTTPs) to be regulated so that both parties operate on a level playing field. OTTPs are all apps that users download onto their mobile devices.
The telcos claimed that many subscribers are now using apps rather than their telecom operator’s normal voice call and SMS services and this is affecting their profit.
Operators said that since the OTTPs use their telecom networks, they must be made to pay all the fees that carriers pay to the government. This will force the app makers to charge for their free services.
OTT players, however, say that the move is against the concept of free Internet or “net neutrality”. A top executive at an app maker said that if OTTPs “were forced to pay, in all probability the cost would be passed on to the users.”
Source : DDN