ISPs raise voice over bar on Net telephony

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are agitated over the possibility of the government disallowing them from offering Internet telephony services, widely expected to be legalized by April 1, 2002.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are agitated over the possibility of the government disallowing them from offering Internet telephony services, widely expected to be legalized by April 1, 2002.

ZDNet India - “We will strongly object to any such move,” Amitabh Singhal, secretary, Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) said.

A governmental committee on Internet telephony has recently said that ISPs should not be allowed to offer Internet telephony services since they do not pay any license fees or contribute to the universal access levies, something which is done by all telecom operators.

The committee thus felt that ISPs, with lighter financial obligations, would unfairly compete with extant telecom service providers.

Singhal disagreed with the committee’s views. He said that even in the US, the Federal Communications Commission opined that Internet telephony was not taking place at a scale serious enough to threaten corporate businesses.

“Anybody with the requisite infrastructure and equipment should be able to provide Internet telephony services, subject to the payment of appropriate entry fees and revenue-share arrangements,” VK Hajela, ISPAI President said.

"ISPs would be able to provide the service from the first day that it is legalized. Time to market would be zero," he added.

Legalizing Internet telephony would open a new revenue stream for about 120 ISPs, of which almost all are loss-making. ISPs are also lobbying for a share of the revenue generated by India’s netizens while they surf the Internet.

Consumers pay telecom companies Rs 24 per hour for surfing the Net, while the ISP’s bill is just about Rs 6-7 per hour.

Source: The Financial Express

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