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Govt panel approves VoIP interconnection ahead of RJIO launch


An inter-ministerial panel on Monday approved VoIP and VoLTE (IP based connections) interconnection in India, paving a way for VoIP & VoLTE users to make and receive calls to and from non-IP based networks and vice-versa, reports Times of India. “The move has been cleared by the inter-ministerial telecom commission and groundwork to get it going will start soon,” an official source told TOI.

This could mean that services that use VoIP & VoLTE for voice calls including WhatsApp, Viber, etc could allow its users to dial landline and mobile phone numbers directly through it mobile app. We have written to WhatsApp regarding its stance about VoIP interconnection in India and shall update the story with the comments once we get a response.

In addition, Reliance’s Jio 4g service, which is expected to launch commercially by April, explicitly uses LTE connectivity to make Jio-to-Jio calls only, due to current regulations in the industry. With the newly apprved regulations, Reliance Jio users who depend on VoLTE standard will be able to call subscribers of non-VoLTE networks, and vice-versa.

TRAI on VoIP Interconnection: Last Month, The TRAI had issued recommendations to the DoT stating that IP-based networks are increasingly gaining traction; therefore facilitating interconnection between IP-based networks is imminent.

According to Clause 27.3 of Unified License, which deals with interconnection between the networks of two different licensees, ‘a circuit-switched network can interconnect with an IP-based network through a Media Gateway Switch’. However, after subjecting to the current approval the TRAI is expected to make additions in its Unified License to allow for a standalone VoIP and VoLTE interconnection with non-IP based networks.

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Airtel challenges TRAI in court: In February, The Delhi High Court sought response from TRAI after Bharti Airtel submitted a plea challenging the regulator’s Interconnect Usage Charges (IUC), fixing termination charges for landline to wireless as zero paise, and wireless to wireless at 14 paise per minute

IUC charges or termination charges are payable by one telecom company, whose subscriber makes a call to another telco’s subscriber, who receives the call. The charge is payable by the first telco for using the second’s network.

Telcos block P2P calling app Ringo: In December 2015, Ringo—a P2P app which lets its users make local and international calls across landlines and mobiles at a low cost without using WiFi or carrier data (2G/3G), had “paused” its operations in India temporarily. The service took more than 2-3 days to resume, the company said that it would refund the unutilized credits to the user.

Ringo was introduced in December  at Rs 0.19/minute. The app uses telecom networks of carriers to make calls even to users who do not have the Ringo app installed on their mobile, and uses uniform pricing across platforms. Telecom operators had blocked backend support to the app, and were planning to write to TRAI stating that the service violated sector rules and did not operate according to license requirements.

Image Credit: King Huang under CC BY 2.0

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