12:00 19th Aug, 2014
Trai Drops Plans To Charge Fee On WhatsApp, Skype & Viber
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India will not hold a consultation on the matter
Finally the common sense has prevailed. Reports suggested that Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has rejected the proposal by cellular service providers to impose revenue sharing rules on popular service apps like Whatsapp, Skype etc.
It looked like the pressure by the cellular operators had got the better of Trai when it decided to hold a consultation on the matter. This provoked widespread criticism and Trai decided to stamp its authority and end the matter without pursuing it.
What the cellular operators want?
They claimed that due to the apps offering free messaging and calling services, there was a decline in the use of cellular and SMS services.
This, they said had led to the loss in revenue and claimed in turn the apps were making money at their behest.
So they wanted a control over what the users did with their internet connections and restrict the usage of the apps by creating a distinction between the types of data sent and received.
Basically this meant the operators wanted the apps to pay them money if they wanted to allow their users to access them.
Why it was opposed?
The argument of cellular operators losing revenue due to these apps was absurd because they were already earning money through data usage.
This was seen as a money grabbing ploy by the operators rather than the ‘level playing’ filed that they claimed.
Once the operator provides internet connectivity and charges for it is up to the user how he uses it and the service providers cannot claim control over it.
According to a report in Economic Times, “"One-third of the incremental revenue of the telecom industry is coming from data services itself. As far as the voice services are concerned, there is an upswing in the realisation rates," said a Trai official.
"There is no proposal for a consultation paper (on regulating companies offering free messaging and calling services)," he added.
On a whole it is a victory for the network neutrality and if Trai had accepted the demands it would have set a dangerous precedent where one would claim compensation from a third party to make up their losses.
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