Features Friday, January 09, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute| December 26, 2014| 6.10 pm IST Airtel decided to play a bad Santa this Christmas for its customers. India’s largest telecommunications carrier by subscribers made revisions to its terms and conditions for internet data packs. Going forward, Airtel’s pre-paid customers will have to dish out extra for using VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services like Skype, Line, Viber etc. In simple terms, if you pay a fixed amount for internet data pack, Airtel will charge you extra for internet calls on any free calling app. 4 paise for every 10 Kilo Bytes on 3G and 10 paise for every 10 Kilo Bytes on 2G, to be exact. In recent years, apps like Line, WeChat, WhatsApp etc have nearly made traditional SMSs redundant and with free internet calls coming into the picture, it is no wonder that big service providers like Airtel feel more than threatened. But their move has rankled the customers to such an extent, that an online petition has been initiated against the telecom giant and customers taking to Twitter and Facebook to express their disappointment.   Here is what some Twitteratis had to say: Airtel's nonsense of charging separately for VOIP should not be allowed. Voice and Data are same for IP network. — Manik Tyagi (@ManikTyagi) December 25, 2014 Any good Service provided in Karnataka ( NO @airtelindia ) . Want to port my number from them .#Airtel VoIP — Animesh (@animeshmeher) December 25, 2014 Airtel's VOIP's pricing plan seems like Electricity companies asking for extra money for your A/C's. #BoycottAirtel #cheaters — Gaurav Lakhani (@gauravlakhani) December 26, 2014 I trust @Skype, @Viber and others to come up with a solution against @Airtel_Presence's ridiculous new policy. Fight the good fight, guys. — Pranav Dixit (@PranavDixit) December 24, 2014 These Airtel chaps are real assVoIPs. — Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) December 25, 2014 If you dont agree with Airtel proposing to charge extra for VoIP and breaking Net Neutrality. RT this with hashtag #boycottairtel — Vijay Anand (@vijayanands) December 26, 2014 other thing is, I call up Airtel cc to find out about Voip charges, &i'm told my data pack rates have been increased w/o consent/information — Nikhil Pahwa (@nixxin) December 24, 2014 I will be giving up my @airtelindia sim protesting the charge on VoIP.I am a believer in net neutrality. — Priti (@pritiriyer) December 26, 2014 Through the site netneutrality.in, users are being urged to send emails to government agencies ministers, share their outrage on social media and complain to Airtel through these mediums as well. The site says the move “violates net neutrality”. It also says that Internet is supposed to be like electricity. Once you get a connection and you can do anything with it. It goes on: "Being providers of utility services, an ISP should not be able to control or alter the terms of access to such services according to their whims and fantasies. This is going to set a dangerous precedent where ISP’s will have the ability to dictate the terms for all internet companies, unless they are paid first.This is similar to how monopolies act, and the government should be more proactive in trying to discourage such business practices." In response to the outrage, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said "We will look into it. Government will come back with structured response." Tweet

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