Airtel to reportedly charge VoIP calls, ahead of Whats App’s upcoming voice call feature

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Imagine paying for a Viber, Skype or Google Hangouts call separately out of your current data bundle or voice plan. Well, Airtel the second-largest mobile network in Asia Pacific and one of the largest in Africa plans to introduce VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls made over its 2G or 3G data network¬†before Whats App Launches it’s upcoming voice calling feature. And, this will start in India. Even if it has not been officially announced, the change in policy appears on the company website.

It states 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). VoIP over data connectivity would be charged at standard data rates of 4p / 10 KB (3G service) and 10p / 10 KB (2G service).”

This coincides with the recent rumors that WhatsApp is about to introduce a voice calling feature and since there are millions of WhatsApp users around the globe, carriers want to mint that side of business as well. Whats App is slowly replacing SMS in Africa and in other countries like India, SMS is no longer a go to messaging service. So mobile carriers are worried that VoIP will soon replace regular circuit switched calling as well, turning them further into dumb data pipes.

All Data Should be equal

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Although this move is beneficial to the carriers, it basically against the fundamental principles of Net Neutrality, which states that all data should be treated equally. This is the same ideology that mobile operators have over other OTTs (Over-the-Top) players like Google, as most feel that they should earn some revenue from services like YouTube.  It remains to be seen if the Airtel Group will spread this to Africa and whether other carriers will join Airtel in this move, and what the communication regulators in different countries will have to say about it.
Source: Talk Telecom