By Debashis Sarkar
National Telecom Policy draft is out. Under the proposed guidelines, licensed telecom service providers like Airtel, Idea, Reliance Jio, Vodafone and others will now be able to provide app-based voice calling services over Wi-Fi. These voice calls will be treated similar to the regular voice calls that we make and operators will have to follow the guidelines set by telecom regulator Trai. Wondering how it will work? Here’s a brief explainer:
For example, if you are using a Vodafone number and you are not able to get proper connectivity in your region or is tired of call drops then you can use an app to connect through your home or office Wi-Fi to make calls. The telephony app can also be of a different service provider.
If you are primarily using a Vodafone SIM to make calls and wish to use the telephony app of a different service provider, then you will be required to download that company’s app. In this case, you will be issued a new 10-digit mobile number. However, if you are already on Vodafone and want to use Vodafone telephony app to make calls via Wi-Fi then you will not need a new number.
Also, note that a new SIM card is not required in either of the cases.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is traditionally seen as a means to lower cost of voice-calls across the globe. But India had missed on VOIP earlier as the telecom infrastructure based on circuit switch had little scope to accommodate VOIP natively. Now, the government has cleared the proposal to introduce internet telephony in the country to address call drops.
“VOIP is not native to our infrastructure which is basically circuit switch and VOIP did not take-off in India previously. Now, the regulator is saying that they will allow these VOIP calls and it is okay for operators to be able to receive those under the appropriate regulatory conditions,” said Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI.
While call drop rates have been a major concern for the government for quite some time, internet telephony is been seen as a way to deal with the situation. There is little scope to focus on the cost advantage as voice calls in India are almost free now for the majority of the population.
“Internet telephony was always there. So, it is a question of how it complies with the regulatory framework which was put in place previously. Now, the regulation has changed to allow certain type of VOIP calls to continue to be used. So, the consumer does not really have a major impact because the costs has already come down,” added Mathews.