NEW DELHI -- Government will look into Airtel's plan to charge separately for internet call services (VoIP) offered by apps such as Skype, Viber and Line that will cost up to Rs 10,000 per GB on 2G network and up to Rs 4,000 per GB on 3G network to a user.
"We will look into it. Government will come back with structured response," Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on the sidelines of 'Good Governance Day' event organised by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology.
He was responding to media questions on Airtel's plan to charge for VoIP (Voice over internet protocol) calls at standard rate of 4 paise per 10 KB on 3G network and 10 paise per 10 KB on 2G network. Airtel customers will now have to pay extra for making calls on Skype, Viber or other apps.
"All Internet/data packs or plans (through which a customer can avail discounted rate) shall only be valid for internet browsing and will exclude VoIP (both incoming/ outgoing). VoIP over data connectivity would be charged at standard data rates of 4p/10 KB (3G service) and 10p/10 KB (2G service)," Airtel said on its website.
Based on standard rates, usage of each GB of data for VoIP on 3G network will cost about Rs 4,000 and while the same on 2G network will cost about Rs 10,000. The company has said it will offer VoIP connectivity through an independent pack that will be launched shortly. "Our customers can continue enjoying voice calls over data connectivity by opting for this VoIP pack, or simply use VoIP services on pay-as-you-go basis," Airtel said in a statement.
This is the first time in the country that any mobile operator is charging separately for VoIP service.
Mobile operators have long been demanding the over the top (OTT) players like WhatsApp, Line, Skype among others should be brought under regulation.