Hungama has tied-up with Aircel to offer its ad-free PRO service free for two months to Aircel subscribers. The PRO service, which was launched in June this year, is normally available for a subscription fee of Rs 110 per month through Google Wallet, after a 30 day free trial period. The company also offers daily, weekly and monthly plans using operator billing.
Hungama’s PRO service users can stream unlimited number of music tracks and videos. They can also cache unlimited songs and videos to their phones for offline listening/viewing.
Last month, rival music streaming app Saavn had partnered with online marketplace Snapdeal.com to offer Android users making purchases through Snapdeal’s mobile site free subscriptions to its premium service Saavn Pro for two months.
Earlier this year, Hungama COO Siddharth Roy had said during a TRAI seminar on regulation of OTT services (essentially Internet companies) that if consumers have a difficulty in paying for mobile data (necessary for accessing Hungama’s app), the company would be willing to find ways of subsidising mobile data. The Aircel partnership seems to be a move to indirectly subsidise mobile data, though it’s also a marketing/promotional effort.
Over the past couple of years, several telcos have partnered with web services to offer free access to the service. Aircel itself had tied-up with Wikimedia Foundation to offer free access to Wikipedia on mobile phone to Aircel subscribers, in July last year. In the same month, Idea Cellular & Opera Software had partnered with Quikr to launch Sponsored Opera Web Passes that offered Idea subscribers 10 MB mobile data for 24 hours for 1 paisa & one-day Facebook or Internet access for Re 1. In May this year, India’s largest telco Bharti Airtel had inked a deal with mobile messaging app WhatsApp to launch WhatsApp-only data packs.
These deals provide bandwidth and commercial consideration to certain sites or services, which is anti-net neutrality, as far as we’re concerned. All sites and services should be equally accessible, the access speed at the telco/ISP level should be the same for all, and the cost for access should be uniform across sites.