labels: Telecom
Government blocking net telephony, ignoring norms: TRAI news
03 March 2009

While asking internet service providers and telecom operators to ensure the provision of the minimum required bandwidth in their networks, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has also accused the government of stalling unrestricted internet telephony in the country.

"Operators must ensure availability of the minimum required bandwidth in their network as per the maximum contention ratio suggested by the regulator for different services based on the number of customers," TRAI said in its guidelines issued for the service providers.

The contention ratio (number of users on the same bandwidth) is a tool to ensure availability of minimum bandwidth in a network based on the number of subscribers.

"There have been complaints from subscribers regarding inadequate broadband speed being provided by the ISPs. Most of the complaints allege that the available broadband speed is lower than the subscribed speed," TRAI said.

Non-availability of the subscribed speed at the user's end hinders the performance of applications run by them and in turn restricts the utility of broadband connection, it said.

At the same time, TRAI has alleged that the government has allowed the entry of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) without putting norms in place.

"The communications ministry has sought clarifications on several key policy issues regarding MVNOs from us. We do not understand how the Department of Telecommunications can approve the entry of MVNOs and then seek clarity on norms from us," the Economic Times quotes an unnamed TRAI official as saying.

MVNOs are companies that do not own any cellular infrastructure but buy airtime from existing operators and sell it using their own brand.

TRAI also said the government has not referred the issue of lifting curbs on internet telephony, which would allow consumers to make STD calls for as low as 10-40 paise a minute. At present, voice calls over the internet can be made only between two computers and not between a computer and a mobile or fixed line phone.

Last month, the Telecom Commission, the highest decision-making body of the Department of Telecom (DoT) had refused to clear the proposal for unfettered Net telephony and said it had referred the matter to Trai.

The regulatory authority has been advocating unrestricted internet telephony since last year. It sent a reminder to the DoT in January, emphasising the importance of internet telephony to bring in more competition in domestic telephony market and overall development in Internet-related services.

ISPs allege that the government is stalling the opening up of internet telephony to benefit telecom operators whose dominance could be challenged by the lifting of curbs.

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Government blocking net telephony, ignoring norms: TRAI