In Business Model, Mobile, News

Calling service Ringo, which has been offering international calling and recently launched domestic calling service in India, says domestic calling on the service has been blocked, apparently by its own wholesale service provider. Ringo says it is “a fully legal, compliant service, and follows all aspects of the DoT and TRAI regulations.”

Mobile operators disagree. As nearly as I can tell, Ringo uses a call-back method similar to that also used by Google Voice.  Perhaps only someone much more familiar with India’s regulations on such call-back services can say whether the call setup process violates regulations, or not.

Rules about calling line identification, among other matters, are being broken by Ringo, the Cellular Operators Association of India argues.

Ringo uses wholesale minutes purchased from an underlying carrier, and is not an over the top service, so the reason for the blocking of domestic calling on Nov. 30, 2015,  is unclear.

“Until we manage to get an intervention from relevant regulatory authorities to unblock our service, none of our domestic calls are going through,” Ringo said.

The blocking is curious. Ringo buys minutes in bulk from carriers, offering local calls for as low as 19 paise/min (less than a cent). To put that in comparison, Airtel charges around ₹1.40 (20 cents) per minute, and if you’re on a reduced tariff plan, that comes down to 40paise per minute (six cents).

That existing mobile service providers would not be happy about the additional competition is  understandable. Why an apparently lawful service is being blocked, however, is not clear.

The Ringo app allows users to call any landline or mobile in the country at a flat rate of 19paise per minute (less than half a cent), without any additional charges.

Unlike other VOIP apps, Ringo uses carrier networks instead of phone data or the Internet for a phone calls.

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