questions Bharti on Net Neutrality

NEW DELHI: The online campaign to preserve a free Internet, has questioned the country’s top telco Bharto Airtel on its ‘Airtel Zero’ platform, saying the new product restricts innovations and violates the principles of net neutrality.

In a letter put up on its website, it said: “Airtel Zero changes the way we access information via the Internet. The web was created as an open platform, where anyone could set up and host their site anywhere, and be available across the globe. Websites don’t tie up with and pay each telecom operator and ISPs in each country (hundreds across the world) so that consumers can access these sites.

If the next 200 million users in India are on Airtel Zero, startups and other companies will have to choose between ignoring these customers or tying up with multiple Indian telecom operators. Historically, telecom operators have co-ordinated when negotiating rates with content owners.”

The letter further said that Airtel had provided fast lane internet access to some sites, citing the example of Indian Premier League in 2010, where Airtel had provided a fast lane to users accessing YouTube, increasing their speed to 2 Mbps.

Two years later, the Google-backed Measurement Lab (M-Lab) reported that Airtel and other ISPs had been throttling BitTorrent traffic in India for years.

“If Airtel says that it will not block and not provide fast or slow lanes in the future, then there should be a mechanism holding it accountable to that pledge.”

It also showed concerns about the fact that other service providers may follow suit and may come out with platforms in the line of ‘Airtel Zero.’

The’s letter comes on the back of Airtel India, South Asia chief, Gopal Vittal, writing to some CEOs, employees and customers, backing the zero rating plan.

The was set up on April 12 this year and so far, included over 50 people supporting the cause of net neutrality.

So far, The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has received over eight lakh mails in support of net neutrality. The regulator is in the process of creating consultation papers on the subject.

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