Vodafone is the latest to join demands for government intervention to create a level-playing field with over the top players such as WhatsApp, Viber, Hike and Facebook.
Raising concern over the growth of OTT players, Vodafone India MD and CEO Marten Piters said: "We should make sure that there is a level-playing field. We (operators) have to pay taxes, license fee and have to share revenue (with the government). The other guys have a complete free ride."
The new development comes amid the ongoing tussle between telecom operators and over the top players. The telecom operators have complained that the OTT players are reaping profits using their network and not sharing revenues with them. The telecom regulator TRAI is already looking into the matter.
"The telecom service providers want a sort of discussion on treatment of OTT services like WhatsApp, Skype and others, which are actually cutting into their revenue," TRAI secretary Sudhir Gupta said.
India is considered to be among the top smartphone based OTT markets in the world. While the over the top players have enjoyed massive growth in India, the telecom operators have suffered in revenues. With voice segment stagnating, the operators heavily invested in expanding their data network. According to a recent research, telecom operators have lost $781 million, or about Rs 4,700 crore, in SMS revenues in 2012. Ovum expects the loss to grow to $3.1 billion by 2016.