Calling service Ringo made its debut in India last week, providing a way for customers to make affordable voice calls. While similar services utilize VoIP for calls, Ringo buys minutes in bulk from carriers, which is how it is able to offer 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/min (6 cents). It's clear that carriers are wary of a service like Ringo, and they're reacting to its introduction in the country by blocking it.
Ringo has announced on its website that its service has been blocked by local carriers, and that it will halt domestic operations until it resolves the issue:
The service is a fully legal, compliant service, and follows all aspects of the DoT and TRAI regulations. Please find an analysis of the same below. However in spite of being fully compliant with the law, the service allegedly seems to have been blocked as of half an hour ago (30th November) without any notice to our service providers. This is the information we have just received from our service provider.
We will continue to persevere in providing innovative voice solutions, and intend to take relevant remedial action, but do not have an ETA on the same. As it stands, until we manage to get an intervention from relevant regulatory authorities to unblock our service, none of our domestic calls are going through.
International calls made through the service will still work in the meantime. Ringo CEO Bhavin Turakhia has mentioned that a resolution is being sought by reaching out to the service providers and the regulatory authorities, and that refunds would be issued to customers should the process take more than three days.
This isn't the first time carriers have tried to stifle competition, as Airtel announced earlier this year that it would charge an additional tariff for VoIP calls. As Ringo does not rely on a data connection to make calls, it will be interesting to see the reasoning provided for its blockade. We'll be monitoring the situation, and will let you know once we hear more.