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Airtel withdraws VoIP charges for now, after forcing TRAI’s hand on net neutrality consultation

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Bharti Airtel has issued a statement that it is withdrawing the launch of its VoIP packs, given that the TRAI has issued a statement that it will issue a consultation paper on issues relating to “services offered by OTT players including VOIP.” Airtel’s statement:

In view of the news reports that a consultation paper will be issued shortly by TRAI on issues relating to services offered by OTT players including VOIP, we have decided not to implement our proposed launch of VoIP packs.

We have no doubt that as a result of the consultation process a balanced outcome would emerge that would not only protect the interests of all stakeholders and viability of this important sector but would also encourage much needed investments in spectrum and roll out of data networks to fulfil the objective of digital India.

Effectively, Airtel forced the TRAI’s hand: It instituted a pack that violated net neutrality, thereby, following the criticism and outrage, ensuring that the TRAI Chairman, Rahul Khullar announced a consultation process. Remember that Khullar said that Airtel’s action is not illegal, since there is no law preventing violation of Net Neutrality.

We’ve already questions TRAI’s predisposition, and a TRAI recommendation, post consultation, if it allows interconnection charges or differential pricing, will only legitimize Airtel’s actions. Then, Airtel could bring back the packs, and say that the law allows it.



Well played.


Things to remember:

1. Airtel hasn’t withdrawn the VoIP packs because of consumer outrage. It’s withdrawn the pack because of the impending TRAI consultation.

2. As Airtel points out, the consultation will not just cover VoIP, but also other OTT services. As per a COAI paper, these services include Instant Messaging (IM), Applications (Apps), Cloud Services, Internet Television, IPTV, M2M – Machine to Machine (M2M) communications, Social Networking, apart from VoIP.

3. The TRAI, as we explained, appears predisposed towards a regulation of online services, and we’re not sure if we can expect a neutral consultation from the TRAI.

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  • ChamatkariChor (Baba)

    Considering that TRAI has begun to believe it exists more to ensure the viability of telecom companies rather than consumer interest and net neutrality, this is a natural step. Most Indian regulators have moved in this direction and are now protecting interests of incumbents and their business models rather than ensuring a level playing field and preventing practices that harm consumer interest. Besides, TRAI is staffed with dinosaurs who can barely understand the importance of having a digital world, let alone an unrestricted one. Naturally, they want to steer the Internet towards the anti-consumer mess that traditional content like Cable and DTH television have become.

    Google for Rs. 100, Yahoo for Rs. 20.. Website packs, I look forward to you.

  • Grimmjow

    I truly hope that India does not go the US way where regulators protect the industry players rather than the consumers. The ordinance passed by Modi to get Nripendra Misra, the ex TRAI guy has bad implications for regulators in general.

  • Sphinx

    TRAI has to put more focus on ensuring that customer get better data services across India. The 3G service coverage is pathetic – take any service provider.

  • I’ve an inkling that’s it’s gonna get worse after TRAI’s consultation paper. Given TRAI’s already pro industry stance, the so called consultation paper may just provide the regulatory rubber stamp on piecemeal internet packs. We may see a pack for everything not just VOIP after that.

  • tomstark

    your logic is flawed.. as you start with ‘violate net neutrality’ but there is no net neutrality law to begin with, so what is being violated?

    • Sai

      Charging Separately for VoIP Calls when you have an data pack, What do you think it is? Time pass?

    • thinknirmal

      Violate as not in legal violation, but a moral violation. It’s something for which you say “that’s not fair!”

  • amr

    There customer care does not know whether they have withdrawn the charges or not yet. They still say that voip is chargeable for both postpaid and prepaid. I just spoke to them now

    • Sudharsan R

      Then #Boycott Airtel is the only way.

  • niikkyysaddy

    this is not over, knowing airtel they will try and push this through silently. Remember airtel has violated net neutrality in the past by throttling torrent speeds on their networks when customers used to provide proof they used to just deny it. We should organise and push the govt for introducing legislation that will protect net neutrality in india.

  • sandeep

    well TRAI chief told ET the following.Seems hes already sold out to the telcos big time.Just curios of what the telecom minister feels.See what the TRAI chief Mr Khullar says and i quote:-

    “Currently there is no law or framework surrounding this concept in India and it is not important to define the concept in terms of what other countries follow or do. We have our own socio-economic systems within which we need to address this issue. All I can say is that time has come to address this space,” Khullar said without divulging any details of the cornerstones around which the debate would be centered in following days ”

    Read more at:

    • Sudharsan R

      May be they might have got heavy KICKBACKS from these daylight lootes some way or another through some swiss accounts. God only knows.

  • Sudharsan R

    But still airtel remains as money sucking network for data along with idea and Vodafone. Day light robbery.