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Skype voice calls to phones within India to be blocked from November 10

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Microsoft’s Internet telephony service Skype is discontinuing the ability for Indian users to make Skype calls to landlines and mobiles within India from November 10, 2014. (Hat Tip – Gopal Srinivasan)

While the company hasn’t provided any reason as to why it is discontinuing this service, it notes that Skype users can continue to make free Skype-to-Skype calls within India, make calls to mobiles and landlines in India from outside the country and make International calls from India to mobiles and landlines in other countries. We’ve written to Skype for more details on this and will update once we get a response.

It’s worth noting that as per Indian laws, PC to PC, or IP to IP telephony is currently allowed but calls originating from within India cannot be terminated on mobiles or landlines. However, there has been a practice of calls originating on IP in India, being routed internationally, and then being terminated on landline or mobile networks within India. Geodesic, now being wound up, used to do this with its VoIP service Spokn. More on that here.

Viber had also recently launched a similar VoIP service in December last year, however when the founder & CEO Talmon Marco was asked whether they have an unified license to offer this VoIP service, he had mentioned that they are “not an India-based company. So….”

The fact that Skype is discontinuing this service now makes us wonder if telecom operators or TRAI’s forthcoming Internet services regulations (or OTT regulations as the organization calls it) has something to do with it.

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A PTI report from August this year suggested that TRAI is planning to release a consultation paper to discuss the regulatory framework for online services. This followed an open house seminar on the same topic earlier in the month.

In July this year, India’s Department of Telecom also sent a letter to the telecom regulator TRAI, seeking its recommendations for “delinking licenses for networks from the delivery of services by way of virtual network operators (VNOs)”. This will eventually lead to licensing of services or regulation of content.

You might want to read our extensive coverage of this issue:

– TRAI Chairman: Telco’s & Internet co’s need to find models of working together without destroying value
– Other comments from the TRAI’s Internet Services regulation seminar
– Telcos didn’t want to raise rev-share, b2b issues for mobile VAS, so why for Internet services? – Subho Ray, President, IAMAI
– “A municipal water supplier does not decide what kind of Cola you drink” – One97 MD Vijay Shekhar Sharma on Telco’s vs Internet
– You ambushed each other, and now you’re trying to get someone else to save you – Venky Nishtala, CTO, Rediff
– Mahesh Uppal: Bring telecom operators on par with OTT providers
– Reliance Communications’ CS Rao: Telecom Operators & Internet services need to share revenues
– Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama: If the consumer has a difficulty in paying for the data, we’re happy to come in and subsidise that data

Updates: Headline modified to clarify that voice calls to phones in India are blocked.

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