Airtel has caved to public pressure and dropped plans to charge separately for Internet calls made over Skype, Line and similar services. Of course, the company hasn’t exactly admitted to the outcry being the reason behind its change in decision.
Instead, Airtel has stated that reports of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) being on the verge of releasing a consultation paper examining OTT (over the top) services like WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and other web-based apps, has influenced its decision. So you won’t need to sign up for a VoIP pack for the present, at least.
The whole circus started when Airtel suddenly announced that it would charge separately for calls made over the web since it is taking major hits to the revenue it earns from voice due to the increasing popularity of VoIP alternatives. Those subscribing to an Internet package would have had to pay extra for dialing up numbers through Skype, for example.
The ‘reasonable’ amount of money Airtel planned to charge for this meant that users were facing the possibility of having to shell out almost four times extra for video calls. The VoIP pack on offer included 75MB data for 28 days which worked out to roughly 250 minutes. Based on this, 1GB costs Rs 1024 instead of Rs 249 or Rs 175 on 3G or 2G networks.
It irked a lot of people who took to social media to air their rage and petitions against this also made their way through emails. An Airtel PR representative we got in touch with refused to offer any further insights into the matter apart from repeating that the company’s decision to charge separately for VoIP has been put on the back burner.