Now, get ready to pay more every time you use your mobile phone data connection to make calls using Internet-based calling applications such as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber. A government panel on net neutrality has proposed to regulate domestic calls made using these services at par with phone call services provided by telecom operators.
The government panel has also opposed projects like Facebook’s Internet.org, which would allow access to certain websites without the user incurring mobile data charges. Similar plans such as Airtel Zero would only be allowed with prior clearance from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or TRAI.
“In the case of Over-The-Top (OTT) VoIP international calling services, a liberal approach may be adopted. However, in the case of domestic calls (local and national), communication services by TSPs (telecom service providers) and OTT communication services may be treated similarly from a regulatory angle for the present.”
The committee is chaired by DoT Advisor for Technology AK Bhargava and other members in the panel include Shashi Ranjan Kumar, AK Mittal, V Umashankar, G Narendra Nath and RM Agarwal.
The concept of net neutrality implies that equal treatment be given to all Internet traffic and no priority be given to a company based on the payment to content or service providers, such as telecom companies.