The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended amending the licence provision for inter-connection at the IP level, which would facilitate Internet-based calls, alternatively known as VoIP calls.
A telecom company is required to pay inter-connection charges when its subscriber makes a call to one on another network. The charge gets added up in the final price, which the subscriber has to pay.
Currently, there are inter-connection charges for VoIP calls as the licence did not have a clause for inter-connection at IP level.
"How can we determine charges till the time licence is not amended? When this licence condition is accepted... we will determine the inter-connection charges for the IP-based network," a senior Trai official told PTI.
He added that Trai has only recommended to amend, and not regulate, the licence provision.
"It's Trai's domain to determine charges. However, till the time DoT accepts the proposition, we can't determine the charges," the official explained.
Proposing to amend the licence, Trai has said there is no explicit clause relating to inter-connection at the IP level in the existing licence, which necessitates insertion of such a clause.
Since IP-based networks, Trai said, continue to proliferate and traditional circuit switch networks are gradually being phased out, there exists the need t facilitate inter-connection.
Once the Department of Telecom (DoT) amends the licence, it will benefit telecom operators as they can terminate Internet calls on each other's network.
The new IP-based network as well as its co-existence with legacy network is expected to give rise to operational, inter-connection and service quality issues, which need to be addressed for successful migration to IP-based networks, Trai had said earlier in a consultation paper.
Networks of all telecom companies are inter-connected, which is vital for completion of calls or sharing of messages through mobile or landline phones.
The clause 27.3 of the Unified Licence specifically deals in inter-connection between networks of different licensees for carrying circuit-switched traffic. It also provides for inter-connection between a circuit-switched network and an IP-based one through a media gateway switch.
But there is no explicit mention of an inter-connection at the IP level between two licensees.
DoT, in its letter dated November 10, 2015 to Trai, had flagged industry concerns on removal of inter-connection restrictions at the IP level to ensure seamless connectivity and requested Trai to indicate an expected timeline for the same.