Microsoft’s internet telephony and video service Skype is planning to roll out a new application specifically designed to operate in India’s low speed 2G and 3G networks and on mobile phones with limited processor speeds, reports the Indian Express. The report added that the new application was the result of the company researching other companies VoIP products and found that services such as Viber performed better on Indian networks.
“India’s 2G and 3G network, as well as the mix of phones in use, pose very specific challenges for us. The new application will be much lighter than the one now available, and will require far less computation resources and memory,” Skype spokesperson Filipp Seljanko told the publication. The report also added that the company hopes that the new application will lead to greater adoption of Nokia’s Asha and Lumia mobile devices.
Note 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. Thus in November 2014, Skype discontinued the ability for Indian users to make Skype calls to landlines and mobiles within India. We wonder if the new application is a means to bypass this hurdle in India?
Skype has been increasing its focus in India and last month Microsoft entered into an exclusive partnership with Zirca Digital Solutions to offers its advertising inventory on Skype in India. An India Today report also added that the increased footprint in India also means Skype has to meet government requests for tracking difficult-to-detect voice over internet traffic. Skype now has a special team in Luxemburg to liaise with governments worldwide on organised crime and terror investigations. Though it assures its policy does not allow for providing data to authoritarian regimes to crush political dissent.
The new application also comes in the backdrop that Facebook-owned WhatsApp has started offering voice calls for Android and iOS users. In November last year, WhatsApp claimed to have reached 70 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India. This was up from 65 million Indian MAUs in August last year, indicating that the company has added five million MAUs in the past two months. Currently WhatsApp calling is not available on Windows Phone and Microsoft could capitalize on the same.