Airtel's Net Neutrality Violation in India; differential pricing for different types of Mobile Internet usage

Net Neutrality violation: Airtel introduces differential pricing mechanism for mobile Internet usage

India’s premier mobile service provider, Bharti Airtel has announced differential pricing mechanism for mobile internet usage based on services.  The new 3G tariff plans announced by the company reek of net neutrality violations.

The new conditions put in small letters at the end of the tariff page state,

 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).

Which means that Airtel will be charging its 3G customers at a differential rate for using VoIP services like Skype and Viber over normal web usage. The above changes go against the premise of net neutrality across all internet platforms.

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality (also network neutrality, Internet neutrality or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments 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.

The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 and thus so far ISP’s and mobile service providers have adhered to its principles with few exceptions. President Obama recently spoke in favour of net neutrality and how he wishes free and open internet for everyone.

While the subject of net neutrality is a hot potato in the western hemisphere, Indian internet users are yet to come out of closet regarding their views on the same.  As always, following the market leaders foot steps, other mobile services like Vodafone, Aircel and Idea are also expected announce such kind of differential tariffs.

Through Techworm, we hope that Indian readers take note of the serious violation of their rights as consumers and also request the TRAI and Ministry of I & B to come out with comprehensive laws to grant Indian consumers the rights of net neutrality.

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