The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has amended the unified license, which is required to offer mobile telephony services in India, to allow termination of calls on an internet protocol (IP)-based network. This would essentially allow consumers to dial phone numbers from online voice service providers such as WhatsApp and Skype.
Analysts believe that the move is expected to clear the path for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Voice of Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) services, which the upcoming operator Reliance Jio Infocomm plans to offer on its countrywide 4G network.
“Earlier restrictions around interconnection between IP-based and CS (circuit switching) based networks would limit Reliance Jio (RJio) users to call users on other networks, and that’s why they were tying up with other operators to route the voice calls through their network. This move would now open doors for RJio users to call users on other networks and vice-versa,” said Rishi Tejpal, principal research analyst, Gartner.
VoIP technology is capable of transporting voice and data packets over the same network. Unlike circuit-switched networks, the service doesn’t require a dedicated connection for an entire call. Voice signals are converted to packets that are sent across the network and reassembled in the correct order when they reach their destination, Gartner has said.
“Interconnection between the networks of different licensees for carrying circuit-switched traffic … and for carrying IP-based traffic … shall be within the overall framework of interconnection regulations/directions/orders issued by the Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India)/licensor from time to time,” the DoT’s Access Services Division said in a notification dated April 19.
Even as the move is expected to benefit operators wanting to offer VoLTE services that will help them decongest their networks in metro areas, Tejpal said that the adaptability of the technology will only depend on the development of device ecosystem that supports VoLTE.
“It is definitely an interesting move for operators, which are looking to offer IP-based voice services. As of now one limitation, which is there is the handset availability supporting VoLTE, and because of that Reliance Jio will also have to wait for some time as there are not so many handsets in the market, which support VoLTE,” Tejpal said.
However, the DoT’s move does not throw any light on the issue of interconnection charges for termination of an IP-based voice call. It is understood, though, that the government may soon approach sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to recommend separate call termination charges for these services.