New Delhi: Bharti Airtel customers will now have to pay extra if they are making calls on Skype, Viber or other apps using their mobile data packs as the operator has decided to charge standard data rates for making voice calls over Internet (VoIP).
This is the first time in the country that any mobile operator is charging separately for VoIP data.
"The VoIP data will be charged separately and would not be part of the existing data packs. 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). VoIP over data connectivity would be charged at standard data rates of 4p/10 KB (3G service) and 10p/10 KB (2G service)," Airtel said on its website.
"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," the Sunil Bharti Mittal-led company said in a statement.
Mobile operators have long been demanding the over-the-top (OTT) players like WhatsApp, Line, Skype among others should be brought under regulation.
"The operators plans of segregating VoIP calls data and charging exponentially higher rates on them smells of sheer greed in its concepts itself. This will be against basic concepts of net neutrality. The very essence of technology and low cost internet telephony needs to be cherished and protected," India Infosec Consortium CEO Jiten Jain said.
India Infosec Consortium deals in cyber security and internet governance related issues.