Bharti Airtel Cowed

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Drops Plans To Increase Prices Due To Net Neutrality

Bharti Airtel Ltd has dropped plans to charge clients extra for Internet communication services such as Skype, amid a debate on allowing equal access to web content and a backlash from subscribers. India’s largest telecommunications carrier by subscribers said that Internet or data plans that give customers discounted rates will be valid for Internet browsing but will exclude Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

VoIP services include communications applications such as Skype, Line and Viber that typically let users make free calls through the Internet.

The proposal sparked widespread complaints from Indians on social media and the creation of a website to fight against the plan. Airtel said the company had decided not to implement the policy in the face of “news reports that a consultation paper will be issued shortly by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on issues relating to services offered by OTT players including VOIP.”

The head of TRAI, Rahul Khullar, told local media that while Airtel’s decision to charge more for these services was not in accordance with net neutrality, it was not illegal. Net neutrality is the principle that all Internet service providers should allow access to all content without favouring any particular product or websites.

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