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Summary:

Google is offering click to call service to its Indian users. VoIP Inc. emailed us and let us know that they are partnering with Google on this new rollout. The click-to-call service is no different from a similar service that the search giant started offering in […]

Google is offering click to call service to its Indian users. VoIP Inc. emailed us and let us know that they are partnering with Google on this new rollout.

The click-to-call service is no different from a similar service that the search giant started offering in the US in November 2006. Since then there was talk that the service was pulled due to prank callers, but it seems to still work in some cases.

Regardless, the wisdom of click to call features in India doesn’t make much sense, given the low PC density in that nation. If they are offering such features on their mobile version, it would make a lot of sense. Mobile phones are a more viable platform for offering new services in India.


Interestingly, the Indian government announced a ban today on Skype and other VoIP services such as Net2Phone. The government warned call centers and said they will face harsh penalties if they continue to use such VoIP services. Call center operators will have to furnish the names of carriers from whom they are buying bandwidth and VoIP minutes. The Indiatimes says:

The companies will also have to give an undertaking that they will not use the services of unlicensed foreign service providers such as Net2Phone, Vonage, Dialpad, Impetus, Novanet, Euros, Skype and Yahoo. As per Department of Telecommunications’ (DOT) estimates, these unlicensed service companies provide 30 million minutes of internet telephony per month to corporates, call centres and BPOs in the country.

For a country which views itself as part of Planet Technology, its government is failing to take into account the changing telecom and technology environment. These moves to ban low cost voice providers must have come at the behest of large phone companies – Bharti Telecom and Reliance Telecom – which are major long distance minute providers and of course, some of the biggest political donors.

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  1. The law used to state that voip was legal as long as the endpoint was addressable by an ip address and not a phone number.

    Therefore skype in used to be and stll is illegal … I dont know if a ban against skype because ofthe problems in implementing filtering against it. But hey these are the same guys who put the ebay india ceo in jail because porn was sold through ebay india.

  2. Om, apologies are in order for shooting first and asking questions later.

    I do not agree with your conclusion that the Indian government has banned Skype and other VoIP service providers (my emphasis). For one, the reference you quote says only that “it is giving final touches to a proposal …” (my emphasis). Secondly, TRAI had made it clear for quite some time now, that the only restriction is regarding VoIP traffic terminating in Indian PSTN. It clearly states that it does not place any restriction on end-to-end IP or VoIP calls terminating in foreign PSTNs. I do hope you see it fit to note these two points.

    Periodically claims are made by people who should know better and those who have something to gain. Recently somebody claimed that India bans Skype because it can not be wiretapped; but I could not locate a reference nor will they give me one. Whatever may be the nature of political corruption, in the case of VoIP, I feel and can defend that TRAI’s position is well reasoned and fair.

  3. Om:

    This proposed action is ironic, as you well know, because VoIP had such an important role in making outsourcing to Indian call centers practical. Lower international rates which VoIP had a huge role in both pre and post deregulation in India have been continuing contributors to India’s economic success.

    This anticompetitive action COULD be a competitive advantage to those in the US who compete with Indian businesses. But the un-recusing of Robert McDowell at the FCC makes it more likely that re-monopoliztion via the at&t acquisition of BellSouth without sufficient pre-conditions will proceed here as well.

    Blogged more about this at http://blog.tomevslin.com/2006/12/indiashootsse.html

  4. Well..contrary to the blog article, the Indian government hasn’t banned skype and other VOIP calling options. All they have done is that they have asked Call Centers and other BPOs to give an undertaking that they are not using these services.

    Skype and the others services can still be used by everyone except call centers.

  5. Sum Sumne:

    Can you please give a reference to this, other than India Times? I couldn’t locate any reference to this in TRAI, for example. Thanks.

  6. Om:

    I just reread my original comment. It requires a clarification. I was trying to apologise in advance for firing off my comment before knowing the full story. But I still think the current regulation from TRAI is at odds with the reporting done by India Times.

  7. just curious. …..can “click2call” services providing “phone-to-phone” call be legally used for commercial purpose in india ?

  8. Kartikey Sharma Monday, November 26, 2007

    When any call center in India is raided by the DOT authorities they do not ask for any undertaking but the center is immediately sealed and HDD is taken by the DOT vigilance cell apart from the penalties they raise.

    There are 2 things which they check a) Is the center having an OSP license to operate an international call center and thus legal rights for the usage of Voip and b) Even if the center has an OSP license does the call center use a Voip minute provider which is registered with the DOT being an A class ISP.

    But you all know how do we legalise things through all hooks an crooks the grey minutes in the market are cheaper around 45 paise without service tax as compared to the dot registered ISP’s such as VSNL and Reliance. Call centers get OSP license when they take registered service providers and then start using grey minutes by paying minutes bills in USD directly to US or UK.

    But still despite all raids conducted by DOT vigilance cells around 80% of call centers in india in the SOHO and SME are operating illegally using voip soft phones and grey minutes without OSP licenses.

    Kartikey Sharma
    +91-9314800061
    biz_itg on yahoo,msn and skype

  9. http://www.voip-info.org/wiki/view/India+TRAI+Press+Release+legalizing+VOIP

    I think the above link, a press release by TRAI, should put an end to this conversation. VOIP is legal now in INDIA. But, I still trying to understand what can be done and what cannot be done as per the legalizing of VOIP.

    Would be great if someone helps me understanding this part… My question starts with…

    Can any company now become a VOIP provider?

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