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Airtel Withdraws VOIP Packs. TRAI To Initiate Consultation [Updated]

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[Updated]
Airtel has quickly withdrawn the VOIP charges that they were going to levy (see news report we wrote earlier). Airtel has seen universal backlash from consumers and strong reaction can be seen on Online/Social Media channels in this regards over last few days.

In an official statement released today, Airtel has said that they are withdrawing the VOIP packs that levied extra data costs for making calls on apps like Viber, Skype etc.

Here is their official statement.

Airtel VOIP  statement
Airtel VOIP statement

While Airtel has withdrawn the packs, it does not mean that they will not implement the same later. The decision has been postponed till the TRAI consultation takes place.

We have to also note that there are currently no net-neutrality laws in India, so essentially, Airtel is not breaking any laws and neither TRAI or DoT can initiate any action on Airtel if they decide to go ahead with VOIP packs.

For now we will need to wait and watch the outcome of TRAI consultation process.

————

Earlier…

Airtel has just updated their 3G tariff plans, and as per the new rules, VoIP data charge would not be covered under standard data plan, and all VoIP data usage would be charged additionally.

As per the new updated communication, “All Internet/data packs or plans (through which customer can avail discounted rate) shall only be valid for internet browsing and will exclude VoIP (Both incoming/ Outgoing).

VoIP over data connectivity would be charged at standard data rates of 4p / 10 KB (3G service) and 10p / 10 KB (2G service).”

3G pack Conditions

At a time when Reliance has introduced unlimited mobile Internet at a flat rate of Rs 999/month and One India Plan with no distinction between local and STD calls / data usage, this new rule from Airtel has shocked everyone.

Net Neutrality Threatened?

Net Neutrality is the principle according to which Government and service providers should “treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.”

There is a huge debate and protests going on in USA regarding the implication of Net Neutrality as some big media companies are asking special lease lines and broadwidth to stream premium services for their customers. Internet users from all over the world have voiced their concern over this special treatment of some companies in terms of bandwidth usage.

By bringing in this new rule for separate VoIP charge, Airtel has become the first Indian telecom player to act against the democratic nature of Internet and force unfair service charges for Internet users.

Is Airtel Scared of OTT Players?

Users of Hike, Line and Viber can make phone calls using the VoIP platform by paying standard data usage charges. We have reported earlier that WhatsApp too is going to introduce voice calling feature very soon, as leaked images have surfaced depicting the voice features.

Is Airtel scared of such OTT players which can disrupt the telecom industry in India?

4 paisa per 10 KB for using VoIP services is certainly steep.

Normally, 250-300 KB of data is consumed during a call of 1 minute. Hence, if a person uses a messenger such as Viber or Hike to make a call, he would be charged around Rs 1- Rs 1.5 per minute for data charges.

This new VoIP rates announced by Airtel is certainly a defensive action against OTT players, and a new propaganda to charge their users extra money.

Earlier, several telecom players including Airtel had asked TRAI to charge extra for using messenger apps, which was rejected by TRAI.

But will TRAI intervene now and stop Airtel from exploiting their customers? Will other telecom players will also start charging money for using VoIP features?

Do share your views by commenting right here.

  1. Sudar says

    Airtel now has become a daylight robbery Telecom company, It has lost reputation with entire citizen of the country. They already charge heavily for data with GB restrictions and now they want to fool the entire citizens of the world.

  2. Arjun says

    Should I call it hypocrisy – Read this statement – …. in line with our philosophy of putting our customers above all else, … making VoIP services … by ensuring adequate minutes …. charge on VoIP ….

    First of all, Airtel – You do not own the Internet. While folks in India might not be aware of concept of Net Neutrality, there is definite opinion across the globe in favor of Net Neutrality. You cannot charge a customer extra for specific service or tweak the speed for specific sites…. If investing 140,000 crore is an issue, please sell off your investments and exit the telecom space for another player… Charging for VOIP over data usage is just unreasonable….

    All you are saying Airtel is that you define what adequate minutes are for your customers to use and you define the charges they pay and you consider this as putting customers above everything else… This goes against the entire concept of putting customer above all else like you claim….

  3. karthick says

    If they r providing QOS guarrantee then its ok to charge….
    That is what is going to happen when we move to 4G or VoLTE soon…

  4. Girish A says

    Time to use MNP for Airtel users

  5. Elango says

    Reliance JIO should launch early now…..and atleast should start releasing advt. now saying that OTT products will not be charged separately….this will help in two ways…1) high value customers can consider moving to Jio in a matter of months 2) Airtel will be forced to either reduce rates or stop this illogical move….they have already taken huge amount of money from Indian subscribers and spent everywhere else…..and now again after making customers get addicted to these services by offering them free for sometime they are plundering them…..

  6. Moheth says

    I hope TRAI takes some action here! Airtel took a huge step in the wrong direction. If this stays i see a lot Airtel customers(esp the young India) who use Skype, Whatsapp, Viber or anyother VoIP services moving to other service providers.

  7. Ramprasad says

    Boycott the airtel products, including Hike messenger.

  8. Jaikumar says

    I think Vodafone and IDEA will follow soon. Airtel is already the costliest of all and in the world of MNP..Airtel will surely loose some of it’s price concious customers..for sure.. I don’t think BSNL,Reliance or any other operator will do so..to attract more customers .. But Surely Airtel is Devil…I am using Reliance GSM..and I am happy with it…As far as you are living in city it’s OK.

  9. Arjun Lal says

    It is completely against net neutrality & cheating with customers.Wake up #TRAI

  10. Bala says

    Very unfair decision by Airtel for charging VOIP separately from Internet data

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