Airtel has officially launched a new platform called Airtel Zero , which will let users access selected apps and services without incurring any data charges. The company will charge app developers or service providers the data usage charges for allowing consumers to download and use those apps for free. Airtel has not announced which apps are integrating with ‘Airtel Zero’, but confirmed that they “are seeing a lot of interest from businesses across the board, including several small startup firms, and expect a large number of applications to sign on.” Also Read - iPhone 12 for iPhone 11 launch price at Flipkart Big Saving Days sale, iPhone 12 Mini alse sees discountAlso Read - Flipkart Big Saving Days sale begins for Plus members: Check top 5 deals on smartphones
Mobile app makers can register with ‘Airtel Zero’ (by paying a fee) to give customers toll-free access to their apps. Airtel will make sure that it does not incur any data charges to all its subscribers for those apps. It will also inform its users of all the free apps, and customers will be able to download and use those apps for free without having to pay for data usage. Also Read - iPhone SE 2020 with Rs 10,901 discount during Flipkart Big Saving Days sale: Check the deal
We are excited to launch Airtel Zero , which is an open and non-discriminatory marketing platform for all developers in India irrespective of the size of their business. We believe that this platform is consistent with India s Digital Inclusion agenda and also contributes to the government s Make in India vision by providing a platform to millions of small businesses to reach out to the end consumer, Srini Gopalan, Director Consumer Business, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
Reports of Airtel in talks with Flipkart to get the company on board with its initiative have already began to surface. Flipkart denied to comment on speculation regarding future associations that may or may not happen.
As lucrative ‘Airtel Zero’ sounds, it goes against the principles of net neutrality. The idea that some services will be free, while some who cannot afford to pay Airtel a fee will be at a disadvantage does not bring healthy competitiveness to play. With this platform, the company is not only taking away the freedom of choice from its subscribers, but also unfairly favoring apps or services that can pay to be on Airtel s platform.
While this isn’t the first time, Airtel has been under the spotlight for being under net neutrality, it is not alone. Google too is said to be working with carriers and developers to lower or eliminate the data usage and data charges in emerging markets like India. The company is reportedly acting as a middleman between mobile operators and app developers. Also known in the industry as zero-rating, either Google or the app developer will pay for the data consumed by the user.
Opera launched App Max, a mobile data compression tool that allows mobile carriers to offer subscribers free access to select Android apps. Facebook too partnered with RCom to launch Internet.org in India to offer free access to around 33 websites that include news portals, health websites, sports, educational apps, and entertainment. Twitter has also tied up with multiple carriers in the past to offer free access to its app and mobile site for subscribers of participating carriers.