The telecom commission, the highest decision-making body in the industry, allowed 4G service providers to offer voice services too on Monday.
Till now, 4G providers could offer only data download services and users had to carry two devices — one for data and another for voice.
Of the companies which have the spectrum for 4G service, only Bharti and Aircel offer voice services over 2G and 3G spectrums.
Bharti has launched its 4G services in three cities, while Mukesh Ambani-controlled RIL — which also has 4G spectrum — is expected to launch its services by the middle of this year.
The new norm will allow RIL to offer mobile voice services once again.
It had exited the telecom sector when RCom of the Reliance group was handed over to Anil Ambani, following the division of the group in 2005.
The operators, however, will be required to pay Rs. 1,658 crore for providing pan-India voice services. “There is no reason for the government to charge this fee as we are not getting any extra spectrum,” said an official of a company holding 4G spectrum.
The Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI) also opposed it, saying it favours a few operators.