The much-awaited internet protocol (IP) telephony, which would make long distance 'STD' calls within the country as cheap as 10 paise per minute, has been delayed further, with the Department of Telecommunications returning the Telephone Regulatory Authority of India's recommendations in this regard back for review.
The DoT move has been timed to coincide with the last day in office of TRAI chairman Nripendra Mishra. "We received the comments with some references from DoT on Friday. We are expected to reply back within 15 days on the same," Mishra had told The Economic Times last week.
The DoT's move is expected to prolong things further as Mishra's successor has still not been decided upon. Mishra may stay on temporarily till the new chairman takes over. In any case it is expected to take longer than 15 days for Trai to send the comments back now.
Some reports also say that the model code of conduct for the elections may bar the government from announcing such a major policy initiative, which may delay things further.
All telecom operators have been opposing unrestricted IP telephony, saying it will create an unfair playing field. But internet service providers are in favour of launching it, as it will enable them to directly compete with telecommunications providers in cheap STD telephony.