Business VoIP Featured Article

Airtel Mobile VoIP Fee Plan Raises Questions About Revenues

January 06, 2015

By David Delony, Contributing Writer

More and more people are using VoIP and business VoIP services, especially on their mobile devices. And while people are increasingly turning to services such as Skype, mobile operators struggling to contend with loss of revenue, including Airtel, one of India’s largest mobile carriers.

AirTel tried to do something about that recently, proposing fees for using mobile VoIP apps, but quickly backtracked after negative public outcry.

“This is good news for those who rely on these services, especially to make long distance calls, which would otherwise be expensive,” Mahesh Uppal wrote in the Financial Express.

While consumers find these services very convenient, since they can access them not only on their phones, but on their computers and tablets as well, mobile carriers find themselves competing with mobile VoIP, as VoIP providers generally have lower operating costs than conventional phone companies.

While services like Skype do have paid options, most people just call for free, as calls to users of the same app are generally free of charge. Given Skype’s large user base, there’s a large amount of call and text revenue that could have gone to the mobile carriers instead.

It’s not that surprising that carriers like Airtel would try to fight back. If Airtel’s attempt represents a “stick” approach, other carriers seem to prefer using a “carrot” to attract customers. Some carriers have attempted to lure customers with premium versions of mobile apps like Evernote.

On the other hand, it seems that over the top services will be around, precisely because they offer independence from carriers. Airtel and other carriers around the world will have to figure out how to balance the needs and wants of their customers with their very real need to make money. How this will actually play out is something that people in the telecom industry will have to watch.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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