Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has issued a consultation paper on the “Issues Related to Internet Telephony” on 12 May 2008. Authority has recently taken major initiatives which will enable Indian populace to reap the benefits of technological advancements. In this connection Authority has already issued consultation papers on ‘Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)’ and ‘Carrier Selection’. Moving further in this direction is initiation of consultation process on Internet Telephony.
Internet Protocol (IP) with robust network can support multiple applications and cater to large number of users. Deployment of IP Networks by telecom service providers has been on the rise all over the world. Currently, different services are being run over IP based networks including Voice over IP (VoIP). The popularity of IP network world over can be gauzed from the tremendous rise in IP traffic recently. As per Cybermedia Center, Osaka University, IP traffic growth rate is 100% on year–to-year basis as compared to 8% growth of voice traffic. It is projected that in the near future IP Based networks will be used for providing end-to-end telecom services including triple play services and may eventually takeover conventional voice networks.
Internet telephony is one such IP based service, which has attracted attention of policy makers, regulators and end users. The increasing popularity of Internet telephony and availability of enhanced network capabilities are posing serious regulatory challenges. Dilemma is that the banning of such services will restrict the 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. The very cornerstone of any enabling future regulatory environment should be dynamic, efficient and should encourage competition. Globally telecommunications are being shaped by rapid spread of broadband and wireless options. While diffusion of platforms and technology differ geographically, the retooling of regulatory policies to fit this reality is just beginning. Most of the present regulatory policies still reflect the pre-convergence era in which all the intelligence resides inside the network. This is contrary to the Internet centric architecture where the intelligence is at the edge of the network. In this context, challenge for regulatory policy ahead is to encourage seamless delivery of content and applications across the networks.
This consultation paper deliberates various issues related to provision of Internet Telephony in India. The paper discusses about the need and timing to liberalise present regulatory restriction as applicable to Internet telephony in existing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) licensing regime. International experiences on this aspect have also been discussed in the paper in order to understand current scenario in other countries.
Some of the issues discussed in the consultation paper are mentioned below:
• Permitting ISPs to provide Internet telephony to call PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)/PLMN (Public Land Mobile Network) subscribers within the country.
• Numbering issues
• Emergency number dialing
• Effective monitoring and lawful interception
• Issues related to Interoperability, standardisation and QoS.
• Issues related to Interconnection with PSTN/PLMN including applicability of present IUC regime.
The stakeholders are requested to send their comments by 9th June, 2008 to Sh. SK Gupta, Advisor (CN), TRAI (E-mail :firstname.lastname@example.org). The consultation paper is also available on TRAI’s Website (www.trai.gov.in)