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DoT amends Unified Access Service to pave way for VoIP interconnection

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The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) has made a new amendment to the Unified Access Service (UAS) license agreement (pdf), paving way for VoIP and VoLTE (IP based connections) interconnection in India. The new amendment is aimed at facilitating VoIP & VoLTE users to make and receive calls to and from non-IP based networks and vice-versa.

The amendment was originally recommended by the TRAI in February after consulting with telcos and associations like the COAI. At that time, the TRAI added that there exists many instances of voice traffic being carried over IP networks rather the the traditional circuit-switched networks.

“As IP based networks continue to proliferate and traditional circuit switch networks are gradually being phased out, there exists need to facilitate interconnection at IP level,” TRAI added.

Last month, an inter-ministerial panel approved VoIP and VoLTE interconnection in India after recommendation weree issued by the TRAI in February.

What UAS means for telcos

With the rise of LTE networks, VoLTE is picking up a grip in the Indian market as more LTE-enabled smartphones hit the shelves. In addition, Reliance’s Jio, which is expected to launch commercially, explicitly uses LTE connectivity to make Jio-to-Jio calls only, due to current regulations in the industry. With the newly amended DoT regulations, more telcos could adopt and provide VoLTE services to customers.

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, there is no ‘explicit’ mention of an interconnection at IP level between two different licensees.

However, the current UAS License agreement has amended the following after reviewing comments from stakeholders

“Interconnection between two networks of different Licensees for carrying circuit switched traffic shall be as per national standard of CCS NO.7 and for carrying IP based traffic as per Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) standards as amended from time to time and also subject to technical feasibility and technical integrity of the Networks and shall be within the overall framework of interconnection…..”

IUC charges: Interconnect Usage Charges (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. The charges will be applicable in the case of VoIP, VoLTE interconnection as well.

The TRAI has fixed termination charges for landline to wireless as zero paise, and wireless to wireless at 14 paise per minute. This was challenged by Bharti Airtel in Delhi HC in February

Also Read:
Lowdown on VoIP regulations at the IAMAI-Microsoft roundtable
A year later, Airtel still does not see VoIP cannibalization

Image Credit: King Huang under CC BY 2.0

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