Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has decided to discuss on the impact of the Over The Top (OTT) applications (which use only Data to function) on the Telecom Service Providers and their revenue in India. Soon they are planning to charge these Application providers to continue to use the Data of Telecom Operators and also might have to share their revenue with the Indian government.
It was started with Skype, which made the International calling facility so convenient and affordable for a lot of users. After a while came the other Instant Messaging (IM) applications like whatsapp that took away the text messaging market. Some of the famous IM apps these days in India are Whatsapp, We-chat, Line, Hike, Viber and Skype. These applications provide options for messaging, voice message, video message, voice calling and video calling too. After these applications have become famous, people started using them for messaging from data package rather than taking SMS packs. Even free voice calls on data option provided by these applications has reduced the mobile operators revenue by calls. If we see that way, all the Telecom operators are losing on SMS packs and Call charges. But is that real that they are really loosing out totally and its these Application providers mistake??? Lets see into that.
While we are using all these apps, the data usage for a regular user has also increased. Instead of a SMS package, now we are using a Data package from the same Telecom operators. The voice calling facility is not used by all the users as 3G connection is not strong everywhere in India. Even the voice quality would not be comparable to the calls by using mobile networks. Also huge amounts of data is also used if voice calls are made over data package. A lot of people these days use WiFi networks for messaging at Home/Work place. Just because the application is providing a cheaper way for the customers to message and call, we cannot charge them penalty. But most of the Telecom operators are not thinking so. They see a loss and want to smartly cash the revenue from the application providers. The thing to be noted is even the data plans are going higher in cost day by day rather than decreasing.
Now if TRIA passes this rule of making the application providers pay telecom operators a commission for using their data and also their profit share to government, it can even effect the consumer. This way, the applications in India may turn to paid versions with no free versions or may be we will be given limited usage for free and after that we need to pay. One more situation might happen if the App providers and telecom operators come to a agreement, which is the same as that of using BBM services. Pay the operator more for the data package to use the OTT apps. During the time where, people were expecting for the rates of 3G packages to drop to 2G, this news is just a dissapointment. One solution to avoid this and satisfy the operators can be that Government provides the 3G spectrum to the telecom operators at a lesser price and are let to charge the existing rates for data packages.
Please share what you think. Does the App Providers really have to pay for the development in technology they have made. Comment below.