India DoT Recommends Regulation of VoIP, OTT Messaging

Over-the-top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber need to be regulated in some way, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). That might mean use of services such as WhatsApp, Viber or Skype are required to charge users retail prices much closer to, or equal to, those of mobile service providers.

The India Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has recommended domestic voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls offered by WhatsApp, Skype and Viber be regulated in line with voice calls offered by telecom operators.

Voice calls offered by mobile operators are estimated to be 12.5 times more expensive (at retail) than those through OTT services. In the case of text messages, the difference is 16 times, a DoT report argues.

For a one-minute phone call, a customer is charged about 50 paise, while a one-minute call made through the Internet costs four paise, according to TRAI. The disparity in text messaging costs is even wider, where a single mobile network text message might cost 16 times what an OTT message costs the end user.

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