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No restrictions, policy required for app-based calling: Department of Telecom

The telecom ministry has clarified that it will not set a policy for over-the-top services, including free calls provided by apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published: February 9, 2018 6:38 pm
Department of Telecom, ovet-the-top services, app-based calling, Facebook Messenger, telecom service providers, WhatsApp, COAI, Skype, Voice Over Internet Protocol, Google Duo He was replying to query whether the telecom ministry would consider providing facility of app-based and cheaper calls to customers by formulating feasible policy for app-based calls.

There is no restriction on phone calls made using mobile applications and there is no policy required to facilitate cheaper calls through them, the government said today. “There is no restriction on App based calls at present. Hence, in the view of the DoT, there is no policy required to be under consideration in the government,” Sinha said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

He was replying to query whether the telecom ministry would consider providing facility of app-based and cheaper
calls to customers by formulating feasible policy for app-based calls.

Sinha said over-the-top (OTT) apps offer voice calls on data and in view of the fact that cost of data is drastically coming down, the app-based calls is a cheaper option for the customer. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Duo and Skype are among some of the popular OTT apps.

Sinha said that the telecom service providers (TSPs) through Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), had
opposed OTT services on the ground that some of the services being offered by OTT players like messaging or instant
messaging and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) calls are substitutes for the services being offered by telecom
service providers.

As per TSPs this creates non-level playing field because of the absence of any licensing and regulatory restrictions or liabilities or obligations on OTT players, he said.

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