Update: Airtel has just released a statement on the issue.
“We have made some revisions in the composition of our data packs, and will offer VoIP (Voice over internet protocol) connectivity through an independent pack that will be launched shortly. Our customers can continue enjoying voice calls over data connectivity by opting for this VoIP pack, or simply use VoIP services on pay-as-you-go basis.”
Airtel has reportedly started charging money for VoIP data – a move that's set to draw harsh criticism from users.
According to terms & conditions spotted on Airtel's official website, the operator is charging VoIP over data connectivity at data rates of 4p / 10 KB (3G service) and 10p / 10 KB (2G service), and that all Internet/data packs or plans (through which customer can avail discounted rate) shall only be valid for internet browsing and will exclude VoIP (Both incoming/ Outgoing).
Airtel's move days shortly after the telecom regulator (TRAI) rejected proposals of operators to charge over-the-top (OTT) players of apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Skype etc for using operators' network. The telcos complain that the OTT players have been reaping profits using their network and not sharing revenues with them.
As said above, Airtel's move to charge for VoIP is going to irk many users. Also, it may trigger debate on net neutrality in India. Read more about the net neutrality here.
We've reached out to Airtel for a statement on the issue.
What do you think about Airtel's move? Do you worry other telecom operators may follow suit? Let us know your views in the comments section below: