NEW DELHI: In a significant step that will have bearing on Indian telecom services and push the rates down further, Telecom regulator on Monday recommended complete opening up of Internet telephony.
The Internet service providers (ISPs) have been permitted to provide unrestricted Internet telephony which means they can terminate Internet telephony calls on PSTN (public switched telecom network) and vice-versa.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has even allowed the national long distance (NLD) operators to connect to ISPs through public Internet (Internet cloud) for unrestricted Internet telephony. But for that to take place, ISPs and NLDs will have to thrash out mutual agreements for unrestricted Internet telephony, said TRAI.
The move will further boost competition in the domestic long distance segment and result in lower STD tariffs. The move will permit calls from personal computers to fixed line and mobile phones. Currently, a voice call can travel between two computers but not from a mobile or a fixed phone. This is expected to open huge channels of revenues for ISPs.
NLD shall make suitable commercial and technical arrangements with access providers i.e PSTN/PLMN (public land mobile network lines) for unrestricted Internet telephony said the regulator in a statement.
However, there will be no change in the existing IUC regime. According to TRAI, TEC (Telecommunication Engineering Centre) will identify distinct number resources for Internet telephony subscribers. Telephone numbers from the identified blocks will be allocated to ISPs, UASPs (unified access service providers), BSOs (basic service operators) and CMSPs (cellular mobile service providers) for Internet telephony.
Even as the regulator emphasized that overall licensing framework has been protected while permitting unrestricted Internet telephony to ISPs, the decision is likely to cause rancour among the existing telcos while bringing a huge cheer to the handful surviving standalone ISPs.
TRAI stressed that it had given due importance to ensure the level playing field among various service providers, inter-connection mechanism, inter-connect usage charges (IUC), and other important issues such as numbering, lawful interception, emergency number dialing, inter-operability and quality of service etc.
"Our subscribers are denied advanced value-added services in contrast to global scenario where such Internet-based services are popular. ISPs are not permitted to provide unrestricted Internet Telephony though they have IP-based infrastructure. Such regulatory restrictions discourage technological advancements and result is grey market activities to provide these services to common masses," TRAI has pointed out in its recommendations. However, emergency number dialing has not been mandated to ISPs. Also, all ISPs interested in providing unrestricted Internet telephony will have to invest in installing lawful interception equipment.
Besides, TRAI has not, at this point, mandated quality of service (QoS) norms for unrestricted Internet telephony.
6 months ago