It looks like the mobile instant messaging and VoIP company Nimbuzz is planning to offer Internet telephony services along with its existing IM service in India, reports Business Line.The report states that Nimbuzz is planning to apply for a new unified license for Rs 15 crore, once the Government announces the guidelines for it.
Nimbuzz currently offers telephony services through a Skype-like platform called NimbuzzOut, which allows users to make calls to mobile phones and landlines globally. The service is however not available in India since the Indian government prohibits the company from offering such a service in the current telecom regime.
The current telecom regime allows voice services between PC (personal computer) to PC or IP based devices to PC within and outside India. It also allows PC to a public switched telephone network (PSTN) abroad, but voice services between a PC and a PSTN in India is prohibited. Under the new telecom policy that was launched last year, a new unified licence was introduced which allows companies to offer voice telephony (VoIP) services by paying an entry fee of Rs 15 crore.
That being said, we hope that VoIP licensing shouldn’t be a ruse to create a separate license for PC to PC IP communication and force VoIP companies like Skype and others to buy a license, when the communication involves just data. These applications are just providing the medium for communication and are not the channel themselves.
It’s also worth noting that at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) 2012, Internet service providers had pointed out that services like WhatsApp, and Skype have been eating into the operator’s margin and they should be charged. India’s largest telco Airtel has been particularly vocal about this issue, having continuously raised it over the past year. Earlier this year, Vodafone India had also joined the battle between telecom operators and Internet companies, by seeking a need for a regulation which would make it mandatory for Internet companies like Google to pay connectivity charges to telecom companies. We believe this may hamper the entire ecosystem, where ultimately the user will have to pay greater fees to use these services.