The government wants the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to submit its recommendations related to internet-based voice calls before the Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) for the next round of auctions, which is scheduled to be held around June-July this year, is finalised.
A department of telecommunications (DoT) official said the telecom firms had voiced concerns and objections regarding lack of clarity on policy concerning interne-based voice calls during the NIA meeting held in January 2015 for that year’s spectrum auction.
Telcos have contended that over-the-top (OTT) operators such as Viber,Whatsapp, Skype, among others that are offering messaging and calling service by riding free on their network and eating into their revenue should be brought under some sort of licensing 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.
Telcos have asserted that due to lack of policy on internet based voice calls, they were unable to take a prudent call on the quantum of spectrum they actually need.
Last month, telecommunications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government is awaiting telecom regulator Trai’s recommendations on voice-calling apps to take a policy decision on internet-based calls. Prasad had told the Parliament (Lok Sabha) that the government will take a position on this aspect after the outcome of this consultation process of Trai.