Over-the-top (OTT) telecom player Skype will stop the calling facility from its application on mobile and landline phones within India from November 10. "As of November 10, 2014, Skype will end support for calling within India meaning calls to mobiles and landlines from Skype within India will no longer be available," Skype's parent company Microsoft said in a statement on Monday.
Using a feature of Skype, a user can make video or voice calls using Internet service for which he/she will only be charged for Internet consumed for the service. Microsoft said, "Users in India can still make free Skype-to-Skype calls worldwide, international calls to mobiles and landlines and users outside the country can call mobiles and landlines in India." It added that Skype WiFi and SMSs are also available to users in India.
The development comes after the Union home ministry wrote to Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to block voice over Internet protocol offered by OTT companies because it conceals details of the caller, including his or her mobile number, which poses a security risk.
Security agencies have raised alarm over the 'parallel telecom network' being offered by OTTs. Besides, location of OTT servers outside India poses further risk. DoT earlier had held talks with OTT companies after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in August decided not to impose extra fees on these popular services as demanded by telecom companies. A top DoT official said any OTT operator can offer free messaging or even calls across any telecom network in India. This also makes it vulnerable and could pose a security risk. Skype's announcement comes within a week of Microsoft's mobile phone arm launching Lumia 730 smartphone in India which positions itself as phone fit for Skype calls and videos.
'BLOCK WE PHONE APP'
Intelligence Bureau (IB) has asked Department of Telecom (DoT) to block the We Phone application as it facilitates spoofing of caller id and is difficult to identify to locate or identify actual caller.
- IB had written to DoT around a month back to block We phone application, which is freely available on Android Play Store and Apple's application store as it allows user to spoof call, an official source said;
- We Phone, which offers call service similar to Skype, allows user to make free calls using mobile Internet service to other subscriber having same application;
- The application, after verifying the user's phone number at the time of installation, gives an option to disable the number to hide it
- IB has told DoT that in free version of this application, caller id on receiver screen starts with +1777 whereas in paid version, any number can be set to display as caller id;
- IB has written that the server of We Phone is located outside India and any call made from We Phone is routed through the server located abroad and therefore it is difficult to identify and locate the actual calling number or user.