In a consumer-friendly move, an inter-ministerial panel of the government has approved inter-connect agreements between telecom operators and internet service providers (ISPs). What this essentially means is that soon users would be able to make calls to landlines and mobiles through voice over internet protocol (VoIP) apps such as Whasapp, Viber and Skype.
The Times of India reports that this move could reduce call charges as such calls may be billed as per data usage rates. Although it also adds that the poor quality of internet across the country may ac as a dampener.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has reportedly recommended inter-connectivity between ISPs and telecom operators, but the telecom ministry is yet to approve. "The move has been cleared by the inter-ministerial telecom commission and groundwork to get it going will start soon," an official source told the English daily.
This move could benefit players like Reliance Jio, which plans to introduce voice facilities over its 4G network in the coming days. Sources say that this move may also be beneficial to customers as voice over 4G is supposedly more efficient and the increased bandwidth available on 4G will result in better call quality at lower costs without affecting battery life.
However, the move may not prove to be the same for Airtel, India's leading telecommunications service provider. In 2014, the company had introduced special pricing for VoIP calls, which it later revoked. The Economic Times reported that telecom operators earn between 36 and 37 paise a minute during a voice call as opposed to seven paise in a VoIP call.
The sources also added that this move may result in telecom operators raising prices for the data services.
Airtel declined to comment on this matter.