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Flipkart’s Airtel Zero exit scores a point in favour of net nuetrality

Amid widespread debate and disagreements on the net neutrality issue that has attracted views from internet users across India, ecommerce giant Flipkart has decided to exit its discussion with Bharti Airtel around the marketing platform – Airtel Zero. Airtel had launched an advertising platform that would allow consumers to access the website of the subscribed partners without bearing any data charges.

Airtel launching Airtel Zero and Flipkart expressing interest in being one of the partners had sparked the debate on net neutrality which propagates unbiased internet ecosystem where no players gets preferential treatment form the Internet Service Provider.

Tempting in the short run, the move was opposed by internet users as it violates the principles of net neutrality. Avinash Jhangiani, Managing Director of Digital and Mobility at Omnicom Media Group India explained that the move would result in adverse long-term effects . “It is a good acquisition opportunity but not a good retention tool,” he said.

The move had also garnered criticism for the telecom company and the online shopping platform on social media. Following the heat of the net neutrality debate in the Indian market, users downrated the ecommerce platform’s mobile app on Android and iOS platforms. Sachin Bansal, Co-Founder of Flipkart tweeted defending its stand on Airtel Zero but has now decided against partnering with the telecom giant.

“We at Flipkart have always strongly believed in the concept of net neutrality, for we exist because of the internet. Over the past few days, there has been a great amount of debate, both internally and externally, on the topic of zero rating, and we have a deeper understanding of the implications,” Flipkart said in a statement. “After reviewing implications of zero rating deeply, we reached the conclusion that it doesn’t meet our standards of net neutrality and violates the principles that we stand for,” it added.