news Wednesday, April 08, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | April 6, 2015 | 05:00 pm IST  Close to a month ago, Bharti Airtel chief Sunil Mittal had asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to “Do philanthropy” instead of trying to free the internet, which Zuckerberg had said was the purpose of "internet.org." "internet.org" is an initiative by Reliance and Facebook which allows for users to browse through certain websites for free.  "At the end, you must understand that we (telecom operators) need to charge you for something," Mittal was quoted in an Economic Times report as saying.  "Internet.org" allows users to access only certain websites (eg. Facebook) using only only certain telecom providers (eg. Reliance) whereas Airtel zero, on the other hand, seeks to provide an open service for e-commerce applications (eg. Flipkart) and a B2B service for over-the-top (OTT) players.  Simply put, certain e-commerce players will tie up with the telecom major and users would be provided free downloads to those particular applications. Usage charges for these applications may be on a chargeable basis but users will have to shell out extra money for those e-commerce players who haven’t tied up with Airtel.  Internet experts, though have said that such platforms are a breach of the principle of net-neutrality on the internet, where users pay differently according to services accessed.  A report in The Financial Express adds that the telecom company is in the final stages of inking deals with 20-25 e-commerce players and close to 100 start-ups. "The country’s top 4-5 e-commerce players would sign up with us," the report quotes the company’s director of consumer business Srini Gopalan as saying.  According to reports, Flipkart has emerged as one the first e-commerce ventures to sign up with Airtel Zero.  The platform though, is a violation of the principles of net-neutrality, according to a report by MediaNama .The website has argued that the platform will only mean that users will have to pay differently for different services accessed via the internet.  In its response to the questions by the website, Flipkart issued a statement saying that they wouldn’t like to comment on future associations that may happen and that they had always been compliant with the rules of TRAI. And while the principles of net-neutrality are yet to be laid down as law in the country, TRAI has asked to generate consensus on the issue in a paper published last week.  Responding to questions from MediaNama, Gopalan said that the platform was a “win-win for customers and developers”. He added by saying that it would work for consumers as they would be paying for their favourite content without paying data charges and would be good for start-ups as well as there would be marketing help and it would cost them 1/3rd of the price. Gopalan also added that they would like to get a number of small start-ups on board and that there would be no discrimination of speed of access to different websites. On being asked though if there would be a lesser fee for smaller start-ups and the like, Gopalan said : “I’m not going to talk on my pricing structure a year on. This will stay non discriminatory, but how it will evolve, I can’t comment on”. Adding though, Gopalan said that the tariff would be open and transparent but also said that it was too early to give out a price structure. “I cannot reveal what that tariff table is right now, because we’re reasonably early in this process”, he’s quoted as saying.

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