Airtel has changed its Terms and Conditions for data plans and will now charge its customers more for making voice and video calls over messaging services like Skype, Viber, Google Hangouts etc..
According to the new Terms and Conditions given on the website, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) over data connectivity will be charged at 4p/10 KB for a 3G service and 10p/10 KB for 2g service, which is almost 16 times more than the usual data pack charges. Which means that the customer will be charged more for VoIP, unlike before when the amount of data consumed for VoIP was deducted for the data pack. And moreover, 2G customers would pay more for VoIP even though they get slower data speed.
As according to TOI report, an Airtel spokesperson said, “We have made some revisions in the composition of our data packs, and will offer VoIP connectivity through an independent pack that will be launched shortly. Our customers can continue enjoying voice calls over data connectivity by opting for this VoIP pack, or simply use VoIP services on pay-as-you-go basis.”
Indian mobile operators have a long standing issue with messaging apps, as they say that they have invested majorly in creating networks and now the OTT (Over The Top) services, like Whatsapp, Viber, Hike, Facebook etc are being benefited the most. “They are getting a “free ride” on telecom networks without paying for spectrum or any other fee”, says Vodafone India MD and CEO Marten Pieter, as per the above mentioned report.
Services like SMS, MMS etc. started fading out with the advent of mobile messaging apps, which offered unlimited free messaging at the cost of the operator’s data charges. After Airtel’s announcement of charging over and above the data pack for VoIP the tweeps caused a flurry of comments against this move, here is what people are saying about it.
Airtel Becomes The Evil Santa; VoIP Data Will Be Charged Extra For Skype, Viber etc: Airtel has just updated t… http://t.co/vhIt7ND5al
— Do Quang Tuan (@DoQuangTuan_Me) December 24, 2014
— Udaibir Singh (@udaibir) December 26, 2014
Airtel needs to learn frm othr countries why net neutrality is important. Charging xtra for VOIP will lead to unpaid bills n lost customers. — Dymaxion Discourse (@shashank_ayyar) December 26, 2014
— Lalit Uttam (@iamlalituttam) December 26, 2014
Interestingly, people are talking about net neutrality in this new move of Airtel. The basic principle of net neutrality is that service providers will treat all data equally and not impose different prices and discriminate among users.
Since all the operators in the country have identified 3G, and now even 4G, data connectivity as the right spot to target the consumers at, the data plans have become competitive. Airtel’s decision to charge more for VoIP can be a reason for losing out its customers to other operators, as it is not going down well with the consumers.
Image Source: Airtel