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Airtel backtracks on VoIP charges in India

Indian telecom operator Bharti Airtel has announced that it will withdraw its exercise to charge Voice over Internet Protocol services such as calls through Skype and Viber separately and not under the 2G and 3G tariff plan.

Earlier, according to information on the operator’s website airtel.in said, “All Special Tariff Vouchers (STVs) for data services (through which customer can avail discounted rate) shall only be valid for internet browsing and will exclude VoIP. To avail VoIP services, customer would need to purchase a separate STV for VoIP.” It had caused widespread debate on the basis of violating the net neutrality principle of internet.

“In view of the news reports that a consultation paper will be issued shortly by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India ) on issues relating to services offered by OTT (over-the-top) players including VoIP, we have decided not to implement our proposed launch of VoIP packs,” said a media statement released by Airtel.

“We have no doubt that as a result of the consultation process a balanced outcome would emerge that would not only protect the interests of all stakeholders and viability of this important sector but would also encourage much needed investments in spectrum and roll out of data networks to fulfill the objective of digital India,” the statement added.

Nevertheless, it has been observed the internet services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Viber have dented the profit margin of telecom operation as it picked up momentum with mobile savvy consumers who have ditched the traditional voice calls and SMSs. TRAI will evaluate the condition closely and release guidelines for the same.