Airtel it seems has come back to senses after it decided to halt its plan to charge differential tariff for VoIP calls made using its mobile internet services. Late last week Airtel which is India’s leading telecom operator announced that it will soon start to charge VoIP calls at exorbitant rates. However the backlash from customers on social media, as well as the governments decision to look into the matter has forced telco to reconsider its decision at least for the time being.
“In view of the news reports that a consultation paper will be issued shortly by by TRAI on issues relating to services offered by OTT (over the top content) players including VoIP, we have decided not to implement our proposed launch of VoIP packs,” Bharti Airtel said in a statement on Monday.
Airtel’s move follows the news reports that Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) may soon issue a consultation paper on the over-the-top (OTT) players like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Google Hangouts and Line to name a few. But sources claim that TRAI is yet to formally start consultation process.
“We have no doubt that the consultation process will have a balanced outcome, which will not only protect all stakeholders’ interests and this important sector’s viability but encourage the much-needed investment in spectrum and roll out of data networks to fulfil the objective of digital India,” Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
On Friday, Airtel launched specially designed VoIP packs for its pre-paid customers. To give you more details VoIP pack were to be priced at Rs. 75 for 75 MB for a validity period of 28 days. “This will allow customers to make between 200 and 250 minutes of calls. Similarly, affordable VoIP plans will soon be launched for postpaid customers. There will be no other charges,” Bharti Airtel had said. These VoIP packs were to be launched over next few weeks. Pre-paid users who recharged with data packs before 24th of December could use it for VoIP calling as well.
Bharti Airtel was previously defending its move to charge VoIP calls saying ” “Over the past 20 years, we have invested Rs 1.4 lakh crore in rolling out telecommunication services in every nook and corner of the country. In addition, we have paid Rs 50,000 crore in government levies in five years. Going forward, we are committed to rolling out data networks across the country. To ensure this, our business must be viable and sustainable. Our voice services, enjoyed by each one of our customers, provides us the capacity to continuously invest in and upgrade our networks on an ongoing basis. We, therefore, believe VoIP services in their current form are not tenable for us as a business. As a result, we will charge separately for VoIP services.”
It is interesting to note here that Airtel already own a VoIP service named Airtel Talk, which it has been promoting aggressively. However Airtel Talk is way too behind leading VoIP service providers like Skype, Viber, Line, with Skype leading the pack.