MTNL set the ball rolling last month by announcing the launch of their Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services and now BSNL, the other government owned telco has thrown it’s hat into the ring: ET reports that BSNL is set to float a global tender for a technical tie-up for Internet telephony services in India. Tenders will be released by September 15th. There are plans for offering PC to PC calls at 10 paise per minute, and those calls terminating on mobile and landline will be charged at around Re. 1.
Now while one can question the reasoning behind charging for PC to PC calls when there are already free services offered by the likes of Skype, Google (Talk), MSN and Yahoo (among others), that’s exactly where I see a problem emerging: The TRAI had earlier recommended that PC to PC voice communications be regulated and licenced. The reasoning: anti-social elements might use these for communication, and it would not be possible to get data related to the communication from unlicenced operators. Hence, if existing telco’s start charging for PC to PC communications (which threatens their existing PSTN business anyway), this would add fuel to the move for licensing VoIP.