Microsoft’s video and chat app Skype will now let Indian users buy Skype credits using Indian cards and net banking. Previously, Indian users could do this only with international credit cards, but this move now lets them use the Indian currency to pay for the service, instead of US Dollars. For this, Skype has partnered with Indian Internet and IT firm Sify. Users can buy Skype credit here.
The move underscores Skype’s focus on Indian operations (albeit a little late). In February, Microsoft said it is working on a pilot to integrate Skype with the Aadhaar database, to see if it could be used as an identification system for video calls with government organisations and institutions. In April last year, Microsoft announced that 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.
Earlier in April, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) made a new amendment to the Unified Access Service (UAS) license agreement, 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.
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.
– Last week, Viber launched its desktop applications for Windows and Mac that also offer support for video calls. It had over 300 million registered users globally and 40 million registered users in India in April 2014.
– WhatsApp, with more than 1 billion active users, has voice calling over IP on the mobile app but does not support video. The company recently launched its desktop app, but it has not enabled voice or video calling on the same.
– In April 2015, Facebook’s Messenger application rolled out video calling.
– In October 2014, Japenese-based Line messaging app, another desktop messaging service, available for almost every computer and had reported over 560 million registered users worldwide with 30 million users in India.