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Net Neutrality in India: That’s what telcos said

Here’s what Telecom Operators have said over the past few years, which we see as anti-net neutrality, and as attempts to slice the Internet into service offerings. To understand what Net Neutrality is about, read our simplified explanation here.


Cellular Operators Association of India

“…there is a need to find alternatives to monetize these services, by exploring a revenue sharing arrangement between the over-the-top service providers (Internet companies) and telecom service providers. COAI Members believe there is a crucial need to initiate dialogue and work with the Government of India on this issue” – Rajan Mathews, Cellular Operators Association of India on May 16, 2014. (Source: Hindu Businessline)

Bharti Airtel

“Today, Google, Yahoo! and others are enjoying at the cost of network operator. We are the ones investing in setting up data pipes and they make the money. There is interconnection for voice then why not for data”…”They are completely bypassing the telecom operator. There should be a fair revenue share” – Jagbir Singh, Director, Network Services Group, Bharti Airtel on July 20, 2012. (source: Hindu Businessline)

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Sunil Bharti Mittal

“If we have to build the highways, there has got to be a tax on highways. You cannot have automobiles running on these highways which are paying nothing” (One approach could be to impose interconnect charges on OTT services to allow operators to make pricing more reasonable and fund spectrum and network investment)…”We need to open up a debate for the right model” – Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman and MD, Bharti Airtel, on Feb 28, 2012. (source: Mobile World Live)

Gopal Vittal

“The third component of our strategy is really to drive data much harder, mobile internet and this is through a combination of a smart network investments, rolling out of 3G where relevant as also driving the category through leading innovation around content and intuitive pricing. We launched our entertainment portal our 1 rupee store. We are trying to change the vocabulary away from megabytes and gigabytes in to songs and videos and we are very pleased that a very large percentage of new users are coming in through that store” – Gopal Vittal, Joint MD & CEO, Airtel, on January 29, 2014. (Source: Bharti Airtel investor concall)

Editor: Imagine logging on and having to choose between select channels like on TV, instead of going where-ever you want to go, online.


Manoj Kohli

“(telecom operators and Internet companies) need to work together, and learn to live together. I believe we (telecom operators) can lift the level of usage of all these services, and customers propensity to use more and more, rather than continue this unnecessary tension. Of course, there are commercial negotiations that are important, and we do commercial negotiations all the time.” – Manoj Kohli, CEO International and Joint MD at Bharxti Airtel on Feb 26, 2013. (Source: MediaNama)

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srini 2

“At some stage, Rs 98 will become Rs 200 for 2gb.I’m not getting into whether this pricing is right or wrong. Even on voice, the current rates are not sustainable. Every single operator is sitting on huge sets of investment. This pricing for data or voice is not sustainable. Lets build the right business model. On one side you compete, and on another you collaborate.”- K Srinivas, President (B2C), Bharti Airtel, on August 16, 2012. (Source: MediaNama)

Also read: Voice Changes Everything: on Telecom vs Internet in a post WhatsApp Voice scenario

Idea Cellular


“(Internet services) Riding for free on our network puts a certain amount of strain on our network. That has to be admitted. With that background, this particular discussion needs to be fair and frank, from the standpoint of providing equal competition. They’re reaching out to my customer with a capability which I couldn’t provide. But, don’t take my cake away from me. I have to survive as well.” – Rajat Mukarji, Idea Cellular, on August 5, 2014. (Source: MediaNama)


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Marten Pieters

“It’s a strange business model at present where telecom operators invest huge amounts of money to upgrade data networks and players like YouTube, who gets the revenue, don’t pay anything” – Marten Pieters, MD & CEO, Vodafone India, on Feb 25, 2013. (Source: Hindu Businessline)

Also from the same story “the company would like to have a regulation in place that would make it mandatory for over-the-top players such as Google to pay connectivity charges to telecom companies.” Note: won’t just apply to Google. Will apply to startups too.”


“We should make sure that there is a level-playing field”…a way should be found to ensure that the “burden” of tax and revenue share (paid by telcos) is shared…”We (operators) have to pay taxes, license fee and have to share revenue (with the government). The other guys have a complete free ride.” – Marten Pieters, MD & CEO, Vodafone India, on 25 October 2014. (Source: Times of India)


“…the net neutrality rules proposed in the EU and elsewhere have been criticized for having the effect of preventing the basic functioning of networks and actually slowing down the internet, by preventing video optimization and prioritization of time sensitive traffic (which provides a better user experience and saves the end user money by reducing data through compression)

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“…Internet speeds have consistently improved year on year, even where we offer our enterprise customers differentiated quality services. We have built bigger networks to provide a shared capacity which benefits all users. Without the opportunity to create such business models, there would be less of an incentive to invest in networks going forward and slower growth in the wider economy, as business services are impacted.” – Vodafone India, in a submission to the TRAI, in October 2014. (Source: TRAI)

Also read: What Mark Zuckerberg didn’t say about Internet.org


Morten Karlsen Sorby

“We are moving out of data and moving in to Internet”…”What customers do with Internet is to use it for services like Facebook or Whatsapp. Our plan is to make these services the cheapest on Uninor” – Morten Karlsen Sorby, (then the nominated) CEO of Uninor, on Mar 11th, 2014. (Source: MediaNama)

Reliance Communications

“The OTT’s (Internet services) have no licensing, no regulation, no customer support. I’ve tried to download office 365, and I couldnt get that working for 6 days. When operator services are not delivered, we get a notice from TRAI. These are some things are no obligation for QoS for OTT (Internet services). Whatsapp is a huge security issue in Saharanpur. Revenues are being earned from Indian subscribers, on a scale of 1/3. There is no monitoring, no hazards. this is where they are offering services free of cost. OTT (Internet services) is a tradeoff for telcos

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CS Rao

What we are requesting is:

– major regulatory re-alignment as consumers move from minutes to MB (i.e., voice to Internet)
– M2M arrangements on data based service delivery
– IUC and termination regulations gains importance (i.e. termination and interconnect agreements between Internet companies and telecom operators)
– DNA (device, network and applications) of TSP (telecom service provider) model needs assurance for harmony.”

– CS Rao, Reliance Communications, on August 5, 2014 (Source: MediaNama)

Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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