New Delhi: The government has decided to look into Bharti Airtel’s decision to charge higher tariff for voice calls through popular internet service providers such as Skype, Viber, Facebook messenger and Google hangouts.
“We will look into it. Government will come back with a structured response,” telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on the sidelines of a ‘Good Governance Day’ event organized by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology.
Airtel had on Wednesday announced that it would charge differential tariff for voice over internet protocol (VoIP) players who provide calls at normal data rates, compared with the steep rates that telecom operators charge. It decided to charge them nearly 16 times the rate of ordinary data pack charges.
The announcement came as bad news for thousands of people who use the popular internet services to make voice calls to family and friends abroad.
Many market players described the move as an attempt to gag the growing popularity of low-cost calling services through the internet. The step is also seen as going against the whole concept of net neutrality, which implies that internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially according to user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.
Other operators like Vodafone and Idea Cellular did not comment on the development. However, it is understood that they are yet to make any changes to their internet plans vis-a-vis VoIP players.