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TRAI issues consultation paper on relaxing Net telephony curbs

TRAI issues consultation paper on relaxing Net telephony curbs


New Delhi: In a move that could bring down national and international telecom tariffs even further, telecom regulator TRAI today sought views from industry and experts to liberalise Internet telephony segment.

As per existing licensing provisions, there is no restriction on international PC-to-PC calls through the Internet telephony. However, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not permitted to have interconnection with Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)/Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) exchanges to provide Internet telephony within India.

Internet Service Providers are not allowed to make calls to fixed line and mobile subscribers as they are not permitted to have interconnection with these networks to terminate Internet telephony calls within the country.

Allowing PSTN/PLMN connectivity to ISPs may provide a cheaper option to subscribers for making domestic and international long distance calls and may act as a catalyst in boosting the broadband penetration in the country. Not only this, Internet telephony within country may also boost competition in National Long distance sector, TRAI said.

Use of Internet telephony for calling PSTN/PLMN abroad has already generated competition in the International Long Distance (ILD) sector benefiting subscribers. Similar impact is expected in the National Long Distance (NLD) sector also.

However, this would require examination of certain regulatory issues like interconnection, numbering, lawful interception, emergency number dialing, Quality of Service (QoS), TRAI said.

Dilemma is that the banning such services would restrict fruits of technological advancement to reach the common masses, and permitting these services under various licenses are raising issue of non-level playing field due to different regulatory levies. In present era of convergence, technology neutrality must be hallmark of any regulatory framework, TRAI said.

Through the consultation paper TRAI is seeking views on the need and timing to liberalise present regulatory restriction as applicable to Internet telephony in existing ISP licensing regime.

The issues on which it has sought opinion are -- permitting ISPs to provide Internet telephony to call PSTN/PLMN to subscribers within the country, numbering issues, emergency number dialing, effective monitoring and lawful interception, issues related to interoperability, standardisation and QoS.

It also seeks views on interconnection with PSTN/PLMN including applicability of present IUC regime. The last date for receiving comments on the paper is 9 June.

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