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Telecos don't want internet telephony to succeed, says Directi CEO

Kiran Rathee/New Delhi 29 Sep 16 | 12:39 AM

Internet telephony can reduce the cost of voice calls by 60 per cent but no mobile operator has launched the service because of a vested interest in protecting their top line, Bhavin Turakhia, co-founder and chief executive officer, Directi, said.

He said barring Reliance Jio, R-Com and BSNL, no mobile operator has shown interest in internet telephony because it would result in cost reduction for voice traffic by up to 3 times, forcing competitive price reduction and a reduction in top line revenue of their business.

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Turakhia, whose firm Vmobi Solutions got a telecom service providers (TSP) licence for access services in February for the Mumbai circle, plans to launch internet telephony. But the firm is facing resistance from incumbent telecom operators that are trying to create confusion over internet telephony.

"The incumbent operators are not allowing internet telephony in India … and they are doing their best to bring in potential arguments to kill it permanently," Turakhia said. Mobile operators in the country are allowed to offer unrestricted internet telephony since 2008. Despite that, no telecom company has launched the service so far.

A DoT official confirmed that telecom companies can provide unrestricted internet telephony, which meant that internet calls can be terminated at mobiles and landlines. As internet calls are over mobile, 14 paisa per call has to be paid as interconnect usage charge (IUC). However, incumbent operators say there is no clarity on IUC for internet calls. Internet telephony enables customers to make calls to any phone number in the country over the internet at one-third the current calling rates. It provides numerous benefits such as the ability to make calls over Wi-Fi, 90 per cent cheaper international calling, HD voice, and innovations like simultaneous data transmission, video calls, and much more.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had come out with a consultation paper in June this year on internet telephony and incumbent operators, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, have submitted comments, which if implemented would kill internet telephony permanently in India.

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