wordpress blog stats
Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Google joins Indian telecom operator association COAI


Kirthiga Reddy (MD, Facebook India) and Rajan Anandan (MD, Google India)

Google India has joined the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), a telecom industry body currently lobbying strongly against Net Neutrality. Google has confirmed to MediaNama that it has joined COAI, but it’s Country Head for Policy, Chetan Krishnaswamy, was not been available for an interview. Google has also not responded to queries mailed last week regarding its reasons for joining COAI, and its stand on Net Neutrality.

The context of our questions

Question 1. Why has Google joined COAI? At a global level, Google isn’t a member of the GSMA, so why has it joined a telecom industry association in India? This is in context of Facebook being a member of both GSMA and COAI.
Question 2. What benefits does Google get by joining an industry association where its core membership is only available to telecom licensees?

Both Facebook and Google are now members of the COAI. In August 2014, Ankhi Das, Head of  Public Policy for Facebook India, had spoken with MediaNama about the company’s reasons for joining the COAI, but took a stand against violation of Net Neutrality. Since then, Facebook has announced Internet.org for India, which, with Zero Rating, would violate Net Neutrality. Facebook has also declined to comment on our questions regarding whether it knew of COAI’s letter against Whatsapp (a company that Facebook owns) to the telecom regulator TRAI.

Google-COAIAlso, note that Facebook is also a member of the GSM Association, and this somewhat explains their decision to join COAI. However, Google has chosen not to join the GSMA, but has now joined the COAI.

Question 3. As a member of the COAI, what are Google’s views on the COAI’s lobbying efforts for establishing a regulatory arrangement via the TRAI for interconnection charges / revenue share arrangement between telecom operators and Internet companies like Google? Do you support such an arrangement. Why or why not?

Question 4. In 2010, Google had tied up with Airtel, for offering higher speeds for access to YouTube for the Indian Premier League. All users accessing YouTube for the IPL were upgraded to a 2 mbps connection. Does Google support increasing or reducing bandwidth speeds for users for specific sites?

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Also, Google has previously tied up with telecom operators like Airtel for providing free data for app downloads along with the purchase of Android One phones. This reduction in price for Apps is, in principle, similar to Airtel increasing prices for VoIP, which the TRAI Chairman Rahul Khullar indicated is a violation of Net Neutrality. At the same time, App developers would benefit from data bundling. Three related questions:

5. What are Google’s views on Net Neutrality in India, and does it support or oppose Airtel’s now-retracted plan to charge separately for VoIP in India?
6. Does Google intend to continue tying up with telecom operators for free data for Google services?
7. Does Google have any plans (whether in India or globally) to offer application developers the ability to bundle data purchased from telecom operators free with their app?

Telecom operators CEO’s and the COAI have lobbied hard over the last year (or more), to force the TRAI to first host a seminar to explore possible revenue share arrangements between telecom operators and Internet companies. The midst of all of this, Google, Facebook and (Facebook owned) Whatsapp have worked with telecom operators to make their own services available free, or for data bundling. As we had explained earlier, these kind of arrangements essentially allow the bigger companies, which can afford such relationships between telecom operators, to make their services cheaper than competition, and forces startups to seek similar arrangements with telecom operators. Quite simply, if MakeMyTrip has such an arrangement with Airtel, would a Cleartrip be able to compete purely on product? If Times of India were available for free, would, say, Mint be able to compete? If YouTube is faster at 2mbps, would Ogle (which, allegedly, was throttled by Airtel), be able to compete?

Three rules of Net Neutrality

Rule 1: All sites must be equally accessible: ISPs and telecom operators shouldn’t block certain sites or apps just because they don’t pay them. No gateways should be created, in order to give preferential discovery to one site over another.
Rule 2: All sites must be accessible at the same speed (at an ISP/telco level): This means no speeding up of certain sites because of business deals. More importantly, it means no slowing down (throttling) of some sites.
Rule 3: The cost of access must be the same for all sites (per Kb/Mb or as per data plan): This means no “Zero Rating”. In countries like India, Net Neutrality is more about cost of access than speed of access: all lanes are slow.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
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.



When news that Walmart would soon accept cryptocurrency turned out to be fake, it also became a teachable moment.


The DSCI's guidelines are patient-centric and act as a data privacy roadmap for healthcare service providers.


In this excerpt from the book, the authors focus on personal data and autocracies. One in particular – Russia.  Autocracies always prioritize information control...


By Jai Vipra, Senior Resident Fellow at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy The use of new technology, including facial recognition technology (FRT) by police...


By Stella Joseph, Prakhil Mishra, and Yash Desai The Government of India circulated proposed amendments to the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 (“E-Commerce Rules”) which...

You May Also Like


Rajesh Kumar* doesn’t have many enemies in life. But, Uber, for which he drives a cab everyday, is starting to look like one, he...


By Aroon Deep and Aditya Chunduru You’re reading it here first: Twitter has complied with government requests to censor 52 tweets that mostly criticised...


135 job openings in over 60 companies are listed at our free Digital and Mobile Job Board: If you’re looking for a job, or...


Google has released a Google Travel Trends Report which states that branded budget hotel search queries grew 179% year over year (YOY) in India, in...

MediaNama is the premier source of information and analysis on Technology Policy in India. More about MediaNama, and contact information, here.

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ

Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Your email address:*
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide

© 2008-2021 Mixed Bag Media Pvt. Ltd. Developed By PixelVJ