Regulators

Your WhatsApp could cost you, soon

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MUMBAI: Telecom operators are worried with the increasing number of over the top (OTT) services that are using their bandwidth to provide share audio, video and text. Therefore, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) decided to pacify everyone with a seminar to discuss the issue.

The telecom industry claims that it is suffering huge losses due to platforms such as Skype, Whatsapp and Viber that provide similar services at no cost but the internet service charge. PTI reports Cellular Operators Association of India director general TV Ramachandran stating during the seminar, “We want some kind of regulatory help to get a level-playing field. There are so many regulations binding on us but the same don’t exist for OTT players. We can do a lot more if level-playing field is given to us.”

According to data by PricewaterhouseCoopers managing consultant Neeraj Kataria, Skype usage is costing the telecom industry around $36 billion a year globally.

On the other hand, when WhatsApp picked up speed in the country, several other such services such as Hike, Line, WeChat, Snapchat etc also emerged to eat a share of the pie.

Ramachandran also shared his concern that OTT services can switch calls over the web outside India but telecom ops have to pay interconnect charges.

Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) president CS Rao said that OTT service providers have no rule regarding quality of service and consumer commitment. “If 20 per cent of our customers start using OTT service then burden on network will increase $55 per subscriber,’ he added.

A report in Business Today states that telcos currently are losing around Rs 5000 crore per year due to these OTT services that will cross Rs 16,400 crore in next two years.

On the other hand, Internet and Mobile Association of India president Subho Roy stated that TRAI should keep out of it since it is a business to business issue. But the TRAI secretary Sudhir Gupta is reported to have said that the purpose of the seminar is not to see if OTT services are cutting into telecom operators’ revenue but whether there is a need for regulating such service or not.

Amid all this, Facebook India has also joined the Cellular Operators Association of India to ‘focus on mobile technology, access and its continued desire to work in collaboration with the industry to increase connectivity.’

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