If the telecoms in India are allowed to have their way, you will soon have to pay for exchanging messages on your favorite free apps like WhatsApp and Viber. So far these services can be used without charge although, since you are using your phone number in order to use these apps, I don’t have a clear idea whether you’re just using the Internet or you are also costing some money to the telecom companies. WhatsApp is supposed to charge a token amount of I think around Rs. 51 after a year but I haven’t come across anybody who has actually paid this annual amount (have you?)
According to the claims made by telecom companies like Airtel and Vodafone (and many more) the telecoms are collectively losing money worth Rs. 5000 crores every year due to free usage of these apps and this amount will soon cross more than Rs. 16,000 crore as more and more people sign up. In the statistics put up in this Business 2 Community article on the same topic, in 2013 seem to have lost $ 32.5 billion in texting fees and the figures are projected to rise up to $ 54 billion by 2016.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) organized a seminar to talk about the regulatory framework for over-the-top companies like WhatsApp and Viber.
Although this is not going to happen very soon I haven’t been able to gather whether the use of WhatsApp, Viber, and even Skype cost extra money to telecoms or not. I’m not talking about revenues that they could have made (because that’s not anybody’s problem), I’m talking about the cost. This is because when the user uses VoIP or even a messenger, he or she has already paid for the Internet service. Internet after all is not free and in fact many people pay a premium. So what’s the problem?