TRAI Says Wireless Spectrum in India Alarmingly Low; Also to Regulate VoIP Apps

Availability of airwaves in India is less than 40 % in comparison to European nations, reports Firstpost. Expressing concerns over the spectrum scarcity in the country, Rahul Khullar, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India asserted, “If you compare country in Europe or rest of the world which are similar in size to Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh… actually the spectrum availability is less than 40 per cent of what is available in the rest of the world, that is our one big problem.”

Image Source: tvtechnology

Image Source: tvtechnology

Adding to the comment, he confirmed that the spectrum availability is even less than 50% of the airwaves in China. Khullar stated that the Spectrum auction has just been wrapped up and unfortunately the airwaves that have been auctioned were the same available in 1994, with no new spectrum.

Putting forth a rhetorical question, Khullar asked, “are we going to thrive and live with same amount of spectrum that we lived 20 years ago when there were hardly any connections and now when there are nine hundred million? And if you don’t increase the supply of spectrum, sorry the quality of service just cannot be delivered.”

The primary concern that lies ahead of India in this sector is to increase the availability of spectrum. Speaking of the deeper penetration of Internet in India, Khullar gave an account of how the country has eventually become an aggressive 3G user; people are very used to high-speed internet. Given to this behaviour of the users are creating a lot of pressure because of the limitation of spectrum availability. A country like India which has huge data requirements, can not function with such low spectrum. “It cannot simply happen”.

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TRAI to Regulate Free Calling, Messaging Apps?

Business Today reports that The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has already undertaken the process to create a regulatory framework for Internet-based free calling and messaging apps like Whatsapp, Skype, Viber and Google Talk.

The debate on regulating these Over-the-Top (OTT) services is unleashed worldwide, concerning Net-neutrality. This ongoing international debate has formed the backdrop for TRAI in releasing a consultation paper on regulatory framework for these services.

Image Source: memeburn

Image Source: memeburn

Telecom operators are of opinion that OTT players are eroding their main revenue without investing in networks.

Justifying themselves, OTT players on the other hand are demanding access to Internet or web-based services without any hurdle for growth of communities and nations.

Rahul Khullar had earlier hinted at initiative to frame regulations on OTT services after Airtel came in for severe criticism from the public for its plan to charge separately for VoIP calls against the principles of Net-neutrality.

Under the principle of Net-neutrality, telecom and Internet companies should maintain an egalitarian approach towards all web-based services and there should be no differential pricing or any kind of barrier that discourages people from accessing services.

If TRAI indeed implement special regulations for VoIP calling apps then it might come as a respite for the telcos who have been crying out against them.

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