The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or TRAI is reported to be in the process of investigating data packages offered by Bharti Airtel which grant subscribers special deals on particular apps like Facebook and WhatsApp. The issue at hand is whether ‘preferential access’ is allowed for such services, which if proven true, would be an unethical practice according to law.
A senior official from India’s premier regulatory body has disclosed to The Economic Times that TRAI will soon be asking Airtel to provide an explanation on how exactly these packages work. If they pan out in such a way that equal access for other content providers on a particular bandwidth is blocked, it will definitely spell trouble for the country’s number one telecom operator.
This issue is related to the net neutrality debate that’s currently going on in the US. Some big companies in the North American nation are lobbying for special Internet privileges to be reserved for their networks, which means inferior connectivity for other players in the market.
Airtel will hence be toying with the idea of free Internet if it’s found guilty of reserving a particular amount of bandwidth space for usage of apps like Facebook and WhatsApp. If some other ethical method is used for this process however, then the company won’t be facing any issues.
The offers that are under investigation include the operator’s bundle of 15MB data for five days and the seven-day access pack that is priced at Rs 7 and offers 21MB of data. A WhatsApp package for 200MB of data is also being looked into.
Let us now wait for the investigations to get over, and see what sort of findings the TRAI comes up with regarding Airtel’s practices.