A boost in data usage from the use of voice calling apps may mean the long-running debate into their regulation in India may turn out to be a “non-issue”, a source at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) told The Economic Times.
Following the March 2015 publication of a TRAI report investigating whether calling and messaging apps were eroding the core revenue streams of mobile operators, data usage associated with the apps exploded.
This, combined with the fact operators will soon be offering native voice services through similar style apps, could make the issue “largely irrelevant,” the unnamed source said.
The 2015 report suggested local voice calls performed over apps could create an uneven playing field between the likes of WhatsApp and Viber and the country’s telecoms providers, which have a range of infrastructure costs and strict rules to adhere to.
The consultation closed in mid-2015 and attracted strong comments from both sides of the divide. TRAI is yet to make a formal ruling on the issue, but is reportedly set to meet with operators to discuss how to proceed in the new data-led industry climate.
In August, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) cited discrepancies between operators’ infrastructure investments and competition from over-the-top voice apps when calling for the country’s Department of Telecoms (DoT) to level the playing field when it prepares a new telecoms policy.