India to permit 4G voice - for a price

Rob Powell/Telecom Ramblings
19 Feb 2013


Or at least they’ll allow it once the fee of 16.58 billion rupees ($306 million) is paid. Yes, you read that right, a government is making service providers pay up for their own over-the-top services over data connections.

We’ve got plenty of cases around the world of incumbent carriers worried about losing various legacy revenue (voice, SMS, etc) to the internet, and seeking to make up the difference by charging OTT providers. At least those with revenue at risk have a reason to scramble for an alternative.

But to have the government charging the telecom for the right to do it themselves in the first place? Service providers are going to have to charge OTT providers double what they already can’t get them to pay just to keep up…

Only in India could charging for the right to sell voice (whether VoIP or VoLTE or whatever) over your own spectrum possibly make any sense, and probably not there either come to think of it. Voice is a relatively minor data service when it comes down to spectrum usage, and VoIP is disrupting the traditional model by lowering the cost. Regulators are simply trying to collect the savings for themselves I guess. I can’t wait to hear how much regulators will decide you have to pay to offer SMS and video too.

And the same day, Indian regulators expressed worry over the fact that it might be difficult to keep three wireless service providers for competition purposes. It might be easier if regulators spent less time treating the sector like a piggy bank for closing deficits and more like a potential engine for economic growth.

Everyone wants to be in India for the huge market potential, but that’s not really enough – is it? Makes the US FCC look downright efficient and logical.

This article was authored by Rob Powell and was originally posted on

Rob Powell is founder & editor of Telecom Ramblings, which was set up in 2008. The website is dedicated to discussing trends and developments in the telecom industry.

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