The Indian users of WhatsApp, Viber and Skype are worried that in the near future they will be charged for making local calls over these applications, because the Telecoms and the Indian Government want to put Net Neutrality to an end. In case the suggestions of the government committee will be implemented, only instant messaging and international calls will remain free.
Telecom operators have complained that these messaging applications are causing revenue losses, because their consumers prefer to use the internet to make voice calls and pay 4 paisa/minute, instead of making traditional phone calls and be charged around 50 paise. It seems that the Indian Government wants to protect these telecom regulators and to charge the WhatsApp, Viber and Skype users for making domestic calls.
If the VoIP services will be licensed in the same way as the mobile operators, then the service providers will need to pay a license fee, and this would be a negative premiere with serious consequences for the companies who created the aforementioned applications. Their users won’t agree to pay money to call their relatives, who live in the same city, as this measure will violate Net Neutrality. Plus, according to the Government’s suggestions, TRAI would regulate the tariff setting and quality of services, which is a discriminatory measure that will favor the cash-rich internet application providers.
Net neutrality is a major problem in India, as in April has become a national debate, after telecom carrier Bharti Airtel launched Airtel Zero and the companies that signed up agreed to pay Airtel a fee, while the users refused to pay data charges for having access to that content.
Mark Zuckerberg was also criticized for teaming up with telecom carrier Reliance Communications to launch internet.org in India and for running a campaign on Facebook users’ timelines, making them believe that the platform is “free internet”. Internet.org is an application that offers 30 pared-down web services (besides Facebook, it included education sites, job listings etc.), but NDTV (Indian commercial broadcasting television network) backed off and they realized that Internet.org violates net neutrality.