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BSNL May Become First Telco to Start Internet Telephony in India

BSNL’s consumers will soon be able to make calls through their WiFi connection using an app on their mobile phone. The company is in the process of testing the facility, which could be launched in a month.

The government on Wednesday paved the way for the start of internet telephony across the country. The move will enable people to make calls in patchy network areas or black spots at a time when call drops/network issues are raging.

Though all private telecom players including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Jio and Idea are working towards launching it, the state-run telecom operator could be the first one to start offering this service as it is already testing it.

For accessing the service, subscribers need to download an app on their phone and can make calls through any WiFi network or 2G/3G/4G network of any telecom player. One can make calls to any network – mobile, landline or a WhatsApp number. Till the time VoLTE devices become readily available, users will have to download an app for it.

“The voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service will be launched soon,” BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava told DNA Money.

Last year, it had launched a similar fixed mobile telephony (FMT) service but had to stop it following a controversy as private operators said service is illegal and not as per license conditions.

A BSNL official in-charge of this service said it will be launched within a month as the platform is ready and the testing is on with 10-digit numbering plan. The tariff plan for the service will be announced closer to the launch.

Internet telephony service is untethered from the underlying access network, Department of Telecom (DoT) said. Voice and video calls can now be made through operators’ own app, just like WhatsApp. These rules were notified and amended on Wednesday by the DoT.

“The licencees should comply with all the interception and monitoring-related requirements as specified in the licence as amended from time to time for providing internet telephony,” DoT said in a notice.

“The subscribers may be informed about the limitation of providing access to emergency services to internet telephony subscribers in unambiguous terms. The licencees must inform the quality of service parameter supported by them for internet telephony so that the subscribers can take an informed decision,’ it said.

Telecom players have been allowed to allot a single mobile number for both mobile and internet telephony service.

Last month, the Telecom Commission — the highest decision-making body of the department — had cleared Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s internet telephony recommendations.Cellular Operators Association of India director general Rajan Mathews said the impact of this would be different for different consumers and operators, and consumers and operators would need to assess the impact of this individually.

He said DoT has clarified that the internet telephony service is untethered from the underlying access network. But, COAI had said that internet telephony service should not be untethered and should only be allowed under Access Service Licence wherein the licencee has its own network/internet service. – DNA

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