January 2015 onwards Airtel subscribers in India will have to shell out four times more to make VoIP (voice over internet protocol) voice or video calls through services like Skype and Viber on its mobile data network.
Any VoIP call made using Airtel won’t be eligible for discounted rates starting January 2015. Airtel planned to charge standard data rates of 4p / 10 KB (on 3G service) and 10 p / 10 KB (on 2G service) for using VOIP over data connectivity. Company’s spokesperson said, Airtel Prepaid subscribers availing the benefits of data packs will get the benefit of discounted data rates only for internet browsing and any voice or video calls made through VoIP will be charged at higher rate.
On Friday, Airtel announced its first VoIP call pack which is priced at Rs.75 for 75 MB usage which translates to only 250 minutes of VoIP calling.
Airtel’s move to charge extra for using VoIP over mobile data network has been criticised throughout India by its subscribers and senior industry analysts describe this move as unprecedented as globally no telecom operator charges extra differential rates for using VoIP over the mobile data network.
Airtel’s move to charge separately for VOIP calls goes against the principle of net neutrality. Recently US President Barack Obama favoured net neutrality in which telecom service providers will treat all kind of data on the internet equally and not impose differential charges for using different services like VoIP, different apps, content sites and platforms.
Airtel though defends its move saying they have invested over Rs.140,000 crore in the past 20 years to expand its network with world-class infrastructure, in addition, paid over Rs.50,000 in terms of government levies in the last 5 years. Airtel said that it will soon introduce affordable VoIP plan for its post-paid users also. As per the statement, any Airtel prepaid subscriber who activated/purchased data plan before December 24 will be entitled to use all services opted-for till the pack is totally consumed or expire.
Not to forget that WhatsApp which has 70 million subscribers in India is planning to launch call services which could highly impact the voice revenue of these telecom operators hence they are trying to protect revenue by charging more for VoIP calls.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government will look into the matter and TRAI is also examining the new VoIP tariff scheme of Airtel.
Are you an Airtel subscriber? If yes, then let us know in the comment section below if you are willing to continue remaining with Airtel even after it decided to charge extra for VoIP services.
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