You might want to say your long goodbyes to video calling over Skype and Google as the Central Government of India is re-examining the legality of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) features in the country. This move comes after the decision of the government to include Net telephony under the unified licence regime.
The reasoning behind the re-examination is that while Indian telecom companies and Internet service providers will pay a revenue share for offering voice over Internet to the centre, globally large VoIP providers like Skype and Google are running their services without offering a single rupee to it.
The Union Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Killi Kruparani addressed the press on Monday saying that the government is going to look at these services soon. Kruparani was at the event to launch video calling services for the South and Eastern zones of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.
Will the government crack the whip over VoIP? (Image Credit: Getty Images)
While the government is still contemplating looking into these services, BSNL Chief General Manager V Srinivasan has already launched an out and out attack on services like Skype saying that the video calling services provided by companies like Google and Microsoft are unlawful and illegal. “What we are offering is a legal service,” he said.
The Video Telephony service that has been launched in all east, west, north and south zones aims to be BSNL’s trump card to tap into Internet calling facilities like voice and video calling. Kuruparani called the service ‘affordable’ at Rs 2.50 a minute and no broadband consumption involved for the service. Users can also avail of the service for Rs 2,200 for a 30-day plan.
The Indian government has always been jittery when it comes to its inability to access data. This dates back to when the government was exhorting BlackBerry to give it access to data sent across through BlackBerry Messenger messages. Starting January 1, 2011, the centre got access to hat communication on BlackBerry messenger services. Research in Motion back then had received a threat that it would have to stop services in the country if the encryption key was not handed over to the government.
In September 2010, it was also revealed that India was to send notices to Google and Skype, asking them to set up servers in the country and give access to its internet data, a top home ministry official was quoted as saying. Echoing concerns raised by several other countries, India had said it wanted the means to fully track and read BlackBerry's secure email and access to internet data that officials fear could be misused by militants.
The government will have to follow certain rules and protocols to investigate whether or not Skype and similar services are on the wrong side of the rules in India, but statements like these are sure to give the jitters to not just the companies but also users – both private and professional – who are heavily dependent on these services in their day to day lives.