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Airtel eyes share in Skype, Viber’s pie; to charge separately for VoIP calls

Airtel has decided to charge Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls separately under its new tariff plans. “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,” according to information on Airtel’s website.

Airtel has tweaked the terms and conditions under and 2G and 3G tariff plans and the customer will be charged additionally for all VOIP calls.

“Over the last twenty years, we have invested over INR 140, 000 crores in rolling out telecommunications services in every nook and corner of the country. In addition, we have paid over INR 50, 000 crores in terms of government levies in just 5 years,” Airtel said in a media statement justifying its exercise to charge VOIP calls separately.

Ironically the announcement came when India is riding high on Digital India wave. Airtel is the first telecom player in the country which is playing spoilsport for the consumer which could threaten the concept of net neutrality.

According to this concept telecom operators should charge all internet data under the same head and not discriminate on the basis of users, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication on the internet.

Users of messaging and call platforms such as Hike, Line and Viber can make phone calls using the VoIP platform by paying standard data usage charges.