Airtel wants TRAI to put forward guidelines to protect telecom operators voice revenues from hyper-competition of free internet VoIP services like Skype and Viber.
"We believe there should be some kind of framework where we are not disadvantaged in terms of our core source of revenue and that is the context in which consultation will hopefully take place". Airtel said during its quarterly results announcement.
In last December, Airtel made a failed attempt to charge special tariff for VoIP calls on its network. But the strategy backfired and Airtel had to drop the plan when subscribers reacted sharply over social media. Since then Airtel has been appealing to the regulator to come with a framework to curb free internet based VoIP service in the country.
On the contrary, Hike Messenger a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Japan’s Softbank Corp launched free VoIP calling service on its platform last month. Kavin Mittal, the son of Sunil Mittal, runs Hike Messenger operations. As per Kevin,"VoIP services, in fact, can open a new ‘fat revenue stream’ for the full-fledged telecom firms.
While traditional revenue streams like Voice and SMS revenues continue to drop for telcos, new revenue streams like mobile data have opened up for operators to grow. Recently Airtel posted a net profit at Rs 1,436.50 crores with 62% growth in data revenue for the quarter ended December 2014. In short loss in Voice, revenues are getting compensated by high growth in the data segment.
TRAI is expected to release a consultation paper to discuss various issues with OTT players like security and legal interception of services. But regulating OTT players for the advantage of mobile operators goes against net neutrality. Like the old song "Video Killed the Radio Star", which symbolized entry for Television and downfall of radio service in 80s, Airtel must understand the changing technology world.
Do express your view on regulating VoIP service for the advantage of mobile operators.