Telecom operators have written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) raising concerns over Whatsapp’s plans to launch voice services over Internet services.

Whatsapp, the popular over-the-top content (OTT) player has around 70 million customers in India, offering messaging services. The company recently had announced its desire to launch ‘Internet telephony’.

According to the telecom companies Internet telephony is a licensed service permitted only under ISP or Unified License granted under the Indian Telegraph Act.

“Hence, companies offering OTT voice services, without holding a telecom license in India, would essentially violate and circumvent Indian telecom licensing provisions and provide services that are otherwise only permitted under a telecom license,” Rajan S Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said in the letter to TRAI.

He said Whatsapp has become a virtual network provider without any license and allied permissions bypassing number allocations, security norms, routing norms since it is using the Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number (MSISDNs) for switching and interconnection.

“Allowing the use of VoIP/ Internet telephony at such massive scale without licensing regime would lead to a significant disruption in the existing business of TSPs and can substantially derail their investment capability,” Mathews said.

Such a situation would jeopardise the national objective of affordable and ubiquitous telephony and broadband access across the country. Further, such an arrangement would also constitute a significant loss of revenues for the exchequer, he added. The TSPs are already suffering because of such VoIPs as free messaging has become a norm of the day.