Telecom operators’ revenue
share from voice calls has declined by about 80 per cent and by 94 per cent from SMS in the last 10 years as the usage of internet-based calling and messaging apps grew, according to a
However, revenue share per user from data usage grew over 10 times between June 2013 quarter to December 2022 quarter, according to the paper.
Telecom regulator Trai in its latest paper to regulate internet messaging and callings app like
etc said that with growing usage of over-the-top (OTT) applications for messaging, voice communication, has led to a transition from voice and SMS towards data as a primary source of revenue for telecom service providers globally.
“In India, composition of the revenue basket of wireless access service providers has undergone a sea-change in the period from the year 2013 to 2022,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said in its consultation paper on “Regulatory Mechanism for Over-The-Top (OTT) Communication Services, and Selective Banning of OTT Services”.
All the major components of average revenue per user (ARPU)– which is a key matrix to measure telecom operators growth, except data revenue share, have declined between June 2013 quarter and December 2022 quarter.
According to the paper, while share of revenue from data has grown over 10-fold to 85.1 per cent in December 2022 quarter from 8.1 in June 2013 quarter per subscriber, the ARPU grew only about 41 per cent to Rs 146.96 from Rs 123.77 during the same period.
The data in the paper shows that the share of revenue calls declined to Rs 14.79 or 10.1 per cent in ARPU of Rs 146.96 from Rs 72.53 or 58.6 per cent between December 2022 quarter or June 2013 quarter.
Similarly, revenue share from SMS declined to 23 paise or 20 per cent of ARPU from Rs 3.99 or 3.22 per cent.
Trai in the paper is exploring if OTT players can be brought under licensing framework which will result in them coughing up entry fees, pay revenue share, facilitate lawful interception, provide call data record, spend on regulatory compliance etc for providing service
The regulator in its past recommendations has allowed OTTs to operate in the country without obtaining any licence. However, a Parliamentary panel on Communications and IT recommended evaluating a selective ban on services of internet calling and messaging apps to mitigate the impact of a complete internet shutdown in a disturbed area.
Trai in its examination of various recommendations, orders and studies said that shutdown of telecommunications or the internet can have significant ramifications for a country’s economy and it also disrupts critical services such as education and healthcare.
“For these reasons, selective banning of specific OTT applications and websites etc., which are likely to be used by the terrorists or anti-national elements to ferment trouble in the specified regions, appears to be preferable as compared to complete internet shutdown,” Trai said.