WhatsApp is the most used online messaging service in India, while Skype is used widely to make video calls across the world. At a time when these services are getting cheaper as well as easily accessible, Government is planning to integrate them with the telecom operators in the country.
Even the sound of it happening is fantastic because the Government is going to sit down with Internet Service Providers and Telecom Operators to decide how the services can be integrated. If the law is cleared, we could soon have access to call landline phones from WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and others IMs in India.
However, the calls won’t be free like intra-WhatsApp or intra-Viber calls, instead the calling rates might be decided by the ISPs and Telcos which naturally should be lower than the existing rates.
An official source said, “The move has been cleared by the inter-ministerial telecom commission and groundwork to get it going will start soon.” Voice over Internet Protocol(VoIP) has already grown widely outside India, but is still in a very nascent stage here. TRAI is in full support of the service and wants interconnection of ISPs and Telecom Operators.
How will the public benefit from VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol is a technology wherein a person can call another person through over internet rather than the offline telephone network. This allows ISPs to partner with Telcos and provide similar calling facilities over the internet.
I see the use of this interconnection in India for consumers who use prepaid mobile phones. Usually the users run out of balance at the last moment, and during this time VoIP comes to rescue. Everyone has an internet pack activated on their service provider, which would allow them to make calls over the internet at very nominal rates.
A lot will depend on quality of calls as well. However, globaly VOIP calls are at par with normal calls, sometimes even better than them.
I had travelled outside India quite frequently last year and it was a pain to use WhatsApp, Viber and Skype for calling India because not every time the other person was using the internet. With this service coming in, I can be sure to reach the person on the other side. This is exactly like an online to offline model, what Google Voice does in the US.
Who knows, with this coming in, Google Voice may start working in India as well!
Calls over the internet are expected to be cheaper than the usual voice calls, which makes sense as well, since we’re already paying for the internet service. The Ministry is sitting down with ISPs and Telcos to decide the prices and termination fees. Once rolled out, I foresee about whole of the WhatsApp generation switching to this model.