Internet calling and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram could soon be regulated
A new report by PTI has revealed that the Department of Telecom (DoT) has sought opinions from the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) on internet calling and messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal and more to create a framework for their regulation to prepare. This was announced by a government representative on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Telecommunications has returned TRAI’s older recommendation on internet telephony from 2008 for review, noting the changes in the landscape of the sector and the emergence of new technologies.
“TRAI’s Internet telephony recommendation was not accepted by the DoT. The ministry has now requested a comprehensive reference from TRAI for internet telephony and over-the-top players,” the official told PTI.
TRAI previously recommended that the apps and services that provide internet telephony and internet messaging do not need to be regulated. DoT did not accept this suggestion and asked for further clarification.
Telecom companies have urged the government to level the playing field in the industry on a “same service, same rules” basis. They want the internet calling apps to pay the same license fee and meet the same regulatory interception and quality of service requirements that apply to them.
Telecom operators are losing a lot of revenue to messaging and calling apps. Furthermore, they also have to pay license fees to provide calling and messaging services while the apps don’t have to pay any fees.
They need the government to give equal consideration to the traditional services and the services provided by the app.
What does that mean?
Worst-case scenario, WhatsApp, Telegram and Signal could stop internet calling service on their platforms like UAE. However, we don’t see this as the UAE has been actively blocking internet calls via apps.
If an apps license fee is introduced to offer text and calling services over the internet, it could mean that many free messaging and calling apps will shut down their services in India. And many apps would even start charging the user for the services.
However, what exactly would happen could be known after the official announcement of regulations from DoT.
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