India’s telecom regulator is soon expected to release a consultation paper on licensing of VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) services such as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber. In April 2015, major telecom companies expressed their desire for licensing of Internet services including VoIP and to come up with a revenue-sharing plan with them for protecting their revenues during TRAI's consultation. At that time, the regulator released a consultation paper titled “Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) Services,” and invited comments on the issues of licensing of Internet services and whether operators should be allowed to discriminate between different types of internet services and companies. Here are the arguments made by major telecom firms including Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communication, Vodafone, MTNL and Sistema Shyam Teleservices regarding VoIP from that consultation process: Same Service Same Rules Telecom operators say that Internet companies providing communication services such as voice calling should be bound by the same conditions as them. They argue such services are “perfect substitutes” of voice calling, which accounts for around 80% of the revenues of telecom companies. Therefore, such companies need to acquire licenses from the government, like telecom operators. MTNL said VoIP companies should not be allowed to go ahead with their business until a regulatory framework is decided. "Considering the volume of traffic generated within the country due to these OTT applications / services, no OTT player would like to discontinue its services in the country for the reason of compliance to some regulation / law of the land etc,” MTNL said in its response to…
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