Government to Take Stand on VoIP Calls After Trai Recommendations

Government to Take Stand on VoIP Calls After Trai Recommendations
Government is awaiting telecom regulator Trai's recommendations on voice-calling apps, called as Over-the-Top players, to take a stand on Internet-based calls, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Wednesday.

"Trai has issued a consultation paper 'Regulatory Framework for Over the Top (OTT) service' on March 27, 2015, which includes regulatory treatment of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). Government will take a position on this aspect after the outcome of this consultation process of Trai," Prasad informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

"Government policy on net neutrality shall be finalised after taking into account recommendations of committee constituted at Department of Telecommunication, recommendations of Trai and other inputs to the government," Prasad said.

Trai this month issued a regulation which bars telecom operators from levying discriminatory tariffs based on content and service accessed using Internet.

The debate on net neutrality in India started after telecom major Airtel decided to charge separately for Internet-based phone calls in December, but withdrew the decision later amid public backlash.

Telecom operators, however, have been up in arms against OTT players like Skype, Viber, WhatsApp that are offering messaging and calling service.

Telecom operators allege that these companies of eating into their revenue, also demanding they should be brought under licencing regime for a level playing field.

On the other hand, OTT players defend themselves by demanding access to Internet or web-based services without hurdle for growth of communities and nations and have opposed any provision to bring them under ambit of licences.

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