WhatsApp users may not be able to use its upcoming voice calling facility with Airtel mobile carrier for free, as the company moves to charge higher rates to their customers from making VOIP calls like Skype, Viber from the mobile data.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) told that it did not seem any kind of illegality in Bharti Airtel’s move for applying call rates for these apps rather than surfing charges. Rahul Kullar, Trai chairman agreed with the disclaimers as the move is against the net neutrality. However, there is no policy or regulatory framework in the country that says that maintaining the net neutrality is mandatory.
“Let’s be clear on this. What the company plans to do is certainly not in conformity with net neutrality. But one cannot say the move is illegal today as there is no policy either by the government that net neutrality is our principle or a regulatory framework put in place by the regulator,” he further added.
In addition to it, the net neutrality is set of some sort of rules which says that a user should have access to all forms of the content in the same manner rather than getting slow speed or barred connection depending on whether the site has paid the carrier or not.
However, the Trai is looking forward to bring the over-the-top (OTT) service providers like Viber and Skype, under rules and regulations. Kullar said,“If the telecom giant fall under a set of rules, then should not the OTT players be also brought under some kind of rules? Otherwise, there would be a non-level playing field.”
“The good thing here would be that there would be no need for pricing the data packs differently for voice and data and since every operator has a smart network which can identify voice calls made over the net, he can bill the originating party a termination charge,” Khullar says.
According to the analysts, the company is currently charging Rs. 249 for 1 GB of 3G and Rs. 175 of 2G data and based on standard rates it costs around Rs. 4000 per GB of 3G data on the other hand Rs. 10000 for 2G data. As per the figures, for VOIP calls on Airtel network consumers have to pay around Rs. 2.24 per min on 3G Network meanwhile Rs. 5.6 per min on 2G network. However, it would cost about 14 Paise per min over the carrier’s mobile internet pack.
Bharti Airtel’s spokesperson said that the move would be prudent to use the bandwidth for surfing rather than using heavy apps like Skype and YouTube. Earlier this month, the government banned VOIP calls from Skype to cellular network in India, as its call rates are very cheap and other mobile carriers are getting into loss due to it.