The country’s top three operators, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Celluar, have said that the recent consultation paper by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is flawed and faulty, as access service providers are anyway allowed to provide such services but the major issue arises on allowing internet service providers and messaging apps to provide voice services.
“We respectfully submit that the current consultation is based on an incorrect premise that Internet telephony can be provided by an access provider/ISP even though it has no access network,” Vodafone India, the country’s second-biggest operator said in its initial comments to Trai’s consultation paper.
In this regard, Vodafone has said that the current consultation paper positions a licensee with an app, with no access network, as capable of providing internet telephony and its interconnection with PSTN/ PLMN. “This, we observe, is a substantiative deviation from the above framework in the current consultation, which deviation is neither allowed under the Indian Telegraph Act nor Trai Act or under the respective licences,” the company said.
Joining issue with Vodafone India, the country’s largest operator Bharti Airtel has advocated that messaging apps that also provide internet calls should be asked to take a unified licence similar to telecom service providers. “We propose that this issue assumes huge significance and should, therefore, be considered and deliberated in view of “Same Service Same Rules” principle,” it said.
Idea Celllular, the third biggest operator has said Trai’s move is a faulty approach and there is no need to introduce such services as it may kill the industry. However, if the regulator intends to go ahead, only serious players should be allowed by paying and entry fee, and should provide services using their own network.
Reliance Jio, meanwhile, has suggested that Trai should allow such apps to terminate calls on cellular networks through mutual agreements.
On the issue of interconnection of apps providing voice calls, Bharti and Idea Cellular have suggested that current regulations could be adopted, while Vodafone India has vehemently opposed the move saying the current licensing conditions mandate only interconnect between networks and not with apps.
Again on the issue of interconnect usage charges, Bharti and Idea Cellular have suggested that Trai adopt a forbeareance and leave it to mutual negotiations, Reliance Jio is also in favour of mutual negotiations, but wants a bill-and-keep methodology, which Bharti is not in favour of. On the other hand, both Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have derived a rate of R0.53 per minute since the cost of delivery will be higher, they said.
Another issue in the consultation is the numbering plan, wherein numbers need to be allocated for subscribers to make and receive calls. Bharti has suggested a 11-digits plan, and Reliance Jio is for a 13-digit plan, similar to Machine-to-Machine communications.