The Government today said that voice calling through OTT applications such as Google Duo, WhatsApp, Hike, etc. have no restrictions and there is no requirement for policy as well. Voice calling via OTT applications is currently free, and it should be free. There is no policy required to facilitate cheaper calls through them said the government today.
"There is no restriction on App based calls at present. Hence, in the view of the DoT, there is no policy required to be under consideration in the government," Manoj Sinha stated in his reply to Rajya Sabha.
Over the last few months, Indian telcos have been complaining about voice calling over OTT apps such as WhatsApp saying that they're losing business in the international calling segment.
Manoj Sinha replied to a query "whether the telecom ministry would consider providing the facility of app-based and cheaper calls to customers by formulating feasible policy for the app- based calls," as reported by Press Trust of India.
Sinha also admitted that all the Over-the-Top (OTT) applications work over data to offer free voice calls and currently the cost of data in India is coming down drastically. And in the current scenario, voice calling via OTT is a cheaper option for the customer, especially for the international calling purposes.
As stated, during November 2017, Indian telcos demanded a level playing field with OTT players in the National Telecom Policy, which is expected to come out by April 2018. But today Manoj Sinha cleared the air saying that OTT voice calls should be free and there is no policy required for that as well. COAI also went in support of the telecom service providers back then.
Telecom operators highlighted that OTT players don't have any licensing and regulatory restrictions or liabilities or obligations like they are having currently. It's interesting to see what telcos will come up with after this rejection from the government.