Telephony Companies crying wolf over VOIP

Telecom companies in India fear from OTT telephony:

OTT telephony is the technical name of the VOIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol. Apps like Skype, Viber, What’s App, BBM etc. which offer voice calling fall in this bracket. While broadband providers have no problem, telecom companies feel threatened by these messengers which provide talking facility.

How so many third-party messengers came into existence?

Water flows downward. So does consumer. It will always find attraction in lower tariff possibilities. So how so many messengers came in to being? Because telephone companies became greedy. While they sell bunch of hundreds or thousand commercial SMS for 1 paisa or less, they charge at least 1 rupee for normal personal SMS. Thus they subsidised spam at the cost of average consumer. Of course developers saw the anomaly and found a solution in instant messengers.

Similar anomaly in telecom tariff:

Now a similar anomaly exist in telecom tariff i.e. Call charges. Every call made has one two or several providers who share revenue. International calls are affected by currency exchange problem. But the core question is:

“How much it costs to a telecom company for each call per minute or second?”

Only an audit on these lines will reveal the truth behind the claims of huge loss. After all normal calls are also digitized and do not follow the old analog route, as these providers would like to portray. Therefore technically those paying data charges to telecom companies, pay through data charges. What they do not pay is their excessive profits imbibed in call charges.

Ghost of past haunting telecom providers:

There was a time in mobile telephony in India when an incoming call would cost 36 bucks. As call charges come down, mobile telephony proliferated like no other medium. This proliferation of mobile phones was inspite of telecom companies’ flawed if not myopic vision and not because of them. Similar problem exist today. Mobile phone companies should sit down and chalk out new models of revenue. Plug loopholes like commercial SMS given for almost free. What it needs is to offer people uncomplicated tariff plans. Presently its tariff plans are devices to trap people by selling them what they don’t need. Telecom sector should shun the ghost of past and grocery store model of tariff.

Technology and lobbying behind Government:

What telecom sector needs is more towers to supply bandwidth and reduce rather eliminate drop calls. If you fail to provide right user experience, people will find someone who can. They ought to have invested in technologies that support smaller towers which are easy to install and almost maintenance free in its shorter life span. Have telecom sector heard of scenes of free internet through balloons and satellites being considered by Google and Facebook? What is their preparation for that? If that happens it will be end of road for telecom sector. Better they fight this war according to the rules of free trade competition instead of taking Shelter under the umbrella of Government.

First round of Lobbying goes to Telecom sector:

In its report, a committee of Ministry of broadcasting, in Government of India has given a report that the VOIP, should also be brought under Telecom Regulator. What will happen? Telecom Regulator has given a direction to Telecom companies that in its every data package, it must mention minimum down load speed. Has any Telecom Company complied with? Telecom companies work under licence of Government, yet regulator is unable to control them. Do they think such toothless regulator will solve the problems of Telecom Companies, which could not solve the problems of consumers?

It would be wise for Broadcast Minister to independently consider all the factors and tell them that if BSNL can start free roaming and free-calling at night, Telecom Sector should also find ways to cover their cost. War is not on covering the cost. War is that any model of revenue which is reasonable to consumer will stop any possibility of wind fall profits, like they made in the past.

Profits sharing and calculation:

It is asserted that the country has 933 million connections. What are the total expenses of mobile companies put together? Divide it by 933 million. Add 10% for growth. Bill every one on this amount and see. Now everything should be free in this revenue model. Data, calls, SMS, MMS. Everything. Too simple? Complicate it.

But I will call upon the Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister concerned to see through the wolf cry. He is an astute lawyer and should be able to see through this wolf cry.

BTW, do you know that any Linux user can create VOIP, without any app, at all! Once this secret to create VOIP is out, where the telecom companies would run?

About Sandeep Bhalla

A lawyer, thinker, author, Linux/Ubuntu power user and sometime an economist or gardener or philosopher or cook or photographer depending upon the current thought and environment. View all posts by Sandeep Bhalla

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