TRAI to discuss Internet telephony guidelines

Indian telecom regulator TRAI on Wednesday issued a consultation paper on Internet Telephony or VoIP calls –seeking stakeholders’ opinions on various matters ranging from additional entry fee, call termination charges to quality of service parameters.

TRAI consultation is happening at a time when calls through Skype, Viber and Whatsapp are gaining popularity with every passing day.

In the consultation paper, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) requested the stakeholders to furnish their comments by July 21 and counter comments by August 4.

“What should be the additional entry fee, performance bank guarantee and financial bank guarantee for Internet service providers (ISP) if they are also allowed to provide unrestricted Internet Telephony?” the consultation paper asked.

The telecom service providers (TSP) have been asking the regulator for a long time to bring the Internet Telephony service providers or the over-the-top (OTT) players under the ambit of the law.

The TSPs had been seeking a level playing field between themselves and OTT apps which ride on their networks. But the OTT players offer cheaper rates as they do not have to pay any of the regulatory levies.

The consultation paper asked: “Whether accessing the telecom services of a TSP by the subscriber through public Internet can be construed as extension of fixed line or mobile services of the TSP?”

There were two major categories for voice transmission over internet protocol (IP) networks based on the type of IP network used. When voice is transmitted over public Internet, it is termed as Internet Telephony. Similarly when voice is transmitted over managed IP networks, it is termed as Voice over IP (VoIP).

Internet Telephony can be deemed to be a subset of voice over IP, in the sense that, when voice is carried over a IP network it can be termed as Voice over IP. And if the IP network in this case is the public Internet then it can be called Internet telephony.

The paper also sought views on call termination charges. “What should be the termination charge when call is terminating into Internet telephony network? What should be the termination charge for the calls originated from Internet Telephony Network and terminated into the wire-line and wireless Network?”

“How to ensure that users of International Internet Telephony calls pay applicable International termination charges?”

The paper also covered security issues. It asked: “Is it possible to provide location information to the police station when the subscriber is making Internet telephony call to emergency number? If yes, how? In case it is not possible to provide emergency services through Internet Telephony, whether informing limitation of Internet Telephony calls in advance to the consumers will be sufficient?”