Telecom regulator Trai issued a consultation paper to frame rules on audio conferencing through a review of licences for voice mail and messaging services.
The paper is seen to plug regulatory gaps that led to the start of conference call service application Ringo last year. Telecom czar and Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal had even publicly expressed concern over the issue.
After going through its older licence regulations on voice mail, audiotex and unified messaging services, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said: “The licence agreement does not refer explicitly to any audio conferencing-related standards document of Telecommunication Engineering Centre (TEC) or any other standardisation body.”
The move has been necessitated by the fact that permit for these services does not fall under present telecom licence called Unified Licence (UL). The UL, which allows an operator to provide all kinds of communication services, is based on the entry fee paid by them.
Apps like Ringo exploited this loophole, offering rates at about 90 per cent lower rates to connect calls using an automatic conference system through landlines.
Mittal had said: “They (Ringo) connect two mobile phones and no termination charges are paid by either side. So, they are gaming this system.”
Ringo maintained that its service was legal, but decided to put it on hold after concerns were raised by other mobile service providers. Trai has sought public comments on whether there is a need for a stand-alone licence to provide audio conferencing service.
The last date for receiving comments on the paper is July 11 and that of counter comments July 25.