Airtel sparks debate MUST READ: India should not allow telcos to charge extra for internet ALSO READ: AIB shares video on #SaveTheInternet, B-town lends support
The debated on network neutrality in India started after Airtel announced in December 2014 to charge additional rates for making voice calls (VoIP) from its network using apps like WhatsApp, Skype, etc.
Charges for VoIP services
The operator had decided to charge VoIP calls on pay as you go basis, at standard data rates of 4 paise per 10 KB on 3G network and 10 paise per 10 KB on 2G network.
A few days later Airtel announced a separated internet pack for VoIP apps, it offered 75 MB for 75 with a validity of 28 days.
TRAI on Airtel move
The TRAI chief Rahul Khullar said that Airtel cannot be held responsible for violating net neutrality because India has no regulation that demands net neutrality.
Airtel's move faced criticism on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Later on 29 December 2014, Airtel announced that it would not be implementing planned changes, pointing out that there were reports that TRAI would be soon releasing a consultation paper on the issue.
Internet.org and Sunil Mittal's criticism
In February 2015, Facebook launched Internet.org in India with Reliance Communications. It aims to provide free access to 38 websites through an app. Sunil Mittal, CEO of Bharti Airtel, criticised the concept and said, "If you are going to make the data free, then let's do completely philanthropic projects. Government must make spectrum free, there should be free network, but it is not happening."
TRAI seeks public feedback
In March 2015, TRAI released a consultation paper on over-the-top services (OTT) and net neutrality for public feedback.
In April, Airtel launched an open marketing platform that will allow customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free while the data charges will be paid by the application providers.
Ministry forms committee
The Communication and Information Technology Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, later said that a committee will be formed to study the net neutrality issue.
Save the Internet campaign
The YouTube channel All India ******* uploaded a video titled "Save The Internet" which urged people to email TRAI demanding net neutrality. The video was reshared on Twitter by various Indian actors.
No law for Net Neutrality in India
There are no laws enforcing net neutrality in India. Although TRAI guidelines for the Unified Access Service license promotes net neutrality, it does not enforce it. The Information Technology Act, 2000 also does not prohibit companies from throttling their service in accordance with their business interests. In India, telecom operators and ISPs offering VoIP services have to pay a part of their revenues to the government.
Airtel sparks debate
MUST READ: India should not allow telcos to charge extra for internet
ALSO READ: AIB shares video on #SaveTheInternet, B-town lends support