Trai unlikely to impose fee on Viber, WhatsApp

Trai unlikely to impose  fee on Viber, WhatsApp

Users of internet-based voice and texting apps like WhatsApp and Viber can heave a sigh of relief with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) unlikely to accept telecom companies’ demand that firms which offer these services share part of their revenue with them or the government.

However, the telecom regulator may study the impact of over the-top-players (OTTPs) on telecom firms revenue and come out with the paper.

The telecom companies have been asking Trai to regulate the services of over-the-top (OTT) companies or providers of apps like WhatsApp and Viber so that these firms pay connectivity charges to telecom companies and share revenues.

The telcos had said that the industry is suffering a minimum annual loss of Rs 5,000 crore in a year due to subscribers opting for free messengers services or voice over internet calls.

As telecom companies have invested huge money to create networks, regulating the services of OTTPs would maintain both parties operate on a level playing fields, telecom firms said.

Telecom operators want the OTTPs which use their networks to pay all the fees that carriers pay to the government, which in turn will force the app makers to charge for what is currently free.

These apps have become very popular amongst mobile users by running on telecom bandwidth without being connected to the telecom industry. They offer free messaging across any telecom network in India.

Though the regulator is concerned about eroding revenue from the telecom companies with the growing popularity of internet based voice or texting apps, a senior Trai official said that the telecom companies can still make revenue due to growth in data services.

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