Indian cellcos want services delicensed to take on OTT voice: report

OTT voice apps
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Indian mobile operators have reportedly urged the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to overhaul their licenses to give them the freedom to compete with OTT voice players such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp on their own terms.

Under the current licensing regime, cellcos can only offer the services specified in their licenses. In a recent meeting with DoT officials, telcos argued that such license conditions are not only woefully outdated, but are also giving OTT services an unfair advantage by preventing telcos from innovating new services to keep up, reports ET Telecom:

“We’ve pointed out to the government that existing licences were written more than two decades ago for a voice-centric market and have largely become redundant and restrictive in a data-dominant era and so need to be overhauled in the new telecom policy,” said a senior telco executive who was present at the meeting with DoT.

As an example, the report said, mobile users are increasingly turning to OTT voice apps for domestic and international calls. Under current rules, cellcos can’t launch their own competitive services unless they pay a fee for the relevant permits. That’s on top of the hefty license fees they already pay the government.

Operators asked the DoT to “delicense” service specifications in its upcoming telecom policy to “level the playing field”, the report said.

Cellcos have also asked the DoT to clarify whether their existing licenses allow them to offer IoT/M2M services:

“People already routinely and legitimately use mobile phones to interface with their cars, home security systems and domestic appliances like TV,” said Mahesh Uppal, director at Com First (India), a consultancy dealing in telecom regulatory affairs. “It’s important to stress that there is no need for any separate authorisation, including M2M licence, for such services.”

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