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Old 25th December 2014, 20:41   #16
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

I'm so sure the Airtel honchos don't have the slightest clue about 'Net Neutrality'. Western countries rave about this, and just like that Airtel gives it a toss like nobody's business. Just look at this perspective - I do all the hard work of coding, debugging, global scaling and finally launch an app & make it free for fellow people, Airtel - a dumb data pipe now charges for using the app and also for the data consumed. Is part of the money charged for VOIP going to respective devs, hell no. This is plain robbery to say the least.

Last edited by GTO : 26th December 2014 at 14:39. Reason: Language
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Old 25th December 2014, 20:56   #17
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

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Telecom companies are not going to step back irrespective of the representations given to the government. Since there is nothing preventing the end user from switching the provider to someone whom they are satisfied otherwise, I don't think government/TRAI might interfere in this. BSNL is always an option for those who don't wan't to go with this option, though it would be a compromise for a lot of other reasons.

TRAI has already sold the spectrum license at a huge amount and restricted the operators from sharing the spectrum. This exorbitant spectrum license fees would indirectly justify the telecom companies to charge huge rates as tariff, in order to recover these costs - so the government cannot dictate the rates and the courts are likely to side with the telecom companies. In case someone takes it to court or any other body, telecom companies are likely to come out on top since the tariff rates in India for mobile are way below the rates in US, even with a considerable increase in the rates. So it might not be perceived as an unfair trade practice.

If all the telecom companies could provide a different tariff plan for Blackberry users compared to regular users without any legal issues, I seriously doubt if there would be any legal hazzles in the latest move.

In case the practice of charging VOIP separately at higher tariff is deemed as unfair, the telecom companies are likely to make that rate as standard for the entire data plan, instead of bringing down the rates. If that is done, it would become "fair" technically, since they are not going to be bothered how we use our data plan. Currently, I'm not paying exorbitant rates at least for syncing my emails but I guess it may not stay that way for long if the selective increase in data plan is deemed unfair!
Here's the basic issue - the internet is supposed to be neutral of content - at least so far. To maintain the sanctity of the web, every website or web service must be given equal priority by ISPs. The ISP (in this case the mobile operator) can't decide to give preferential or poorer treatment to certain type of data based on their whims and fancies. All data packets must be treated the same no matter where their source is. If this is not done, the bigger players could easily crush the smaller players simply by paying their way out to the ISPs who in turn will offer fatter pipes to their content and throttle the little guy. Alternatively they could force the user to pay the same. This is also illogical as you are already paying for data via your normal contract.

This is a huge topic of discussion in the US and to make sure net neutrality is upheld, the government is considering classifying ISPs as common carriers (i.e. essential service providers) which are tightly regulated.

If TRAI sits quietly doing nothing on this issue, very soon folks on Indian ISPs might end up seeing a version of the web that suits their ISP's whims rather than what they really care about.

As for spectrum license fees, it is the mobile operator that decided to cough up the fees in an auction. It is their problem to figure out how to monetize the same without treading on someone's toes.

Also this issue is very very different from blackberry. In that case, the contract you buy includes the ability for you to access blackberry's servers. It is the cost of hosting your content (mail) and the same being pushed to your blackberry device via a proprietary protocol.

Last edited by GTO : 26th December 2014 at 14:40. Reason: Was deleted because it was a one-liner :). This is perfect!
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Old 25th December 2014, 21:27   #18
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

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As for spectrum license fees, it is the mobile operator that decided to cough up the fees in an auction. It is their problem to figure out how to monetize the same without treading on someone's toes.
That is precisely what they've done. No one is stopping these free apps from providing the same service via a regular broadband platform from a computer or using WiFi from a smartphone instead of using the cellular bandwidth.

If a customer doesn't like it, nothing stops him from switching to a different provider. Thanks to TRAI, they can even retain their number via MNP.

Movie streaming sites like Netflix had come under heavy criticism and scrutiny from ISPs in US due to their data-intensive business model that clogged the data bandwidth. When ISPs tried to increase the bandwidth to improve the scenario, streaming sites allowed higher resolution streaming thereby bringing the situation back to where it was. There was an ongoing debate on this front with the prospect of either blocking the streaming sites, charging higher for streaming sites alone or increasing the broadband charges across the board.
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Old 25th December 2014, 22:59   #19
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

How many of us send SMS these days? a lot of us still do, But not very often as we used to. As far as I know a local SMS costs 1Re. Data, is charged. As far as VOIP is considered, I have always felt the lag, it used to be the norm in the 80z when you made a call abroad. I hardly use any apps for voip. Nothing was free. Nothing is free. Nothing will be free, But, I do hope the connectivity improves.
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Old 25th December 2014, 23:42   #20
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

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That is precisely what they've done. No one is stopping these free apps from providing the same service via a regular broadband platform from a computer or using WiFi from a smartphone instead of using the cellular bandwidth.
You are self contradicting here. How is 3G bandwidth any different from an ISP that uses any other medium? You pay for an internet connection and you should get the same. What application you use over the same is your prerogative not the mobile operators'. It is none of their business on whether you use whatsapp or whatever.

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If a customer doesn't like it, nothing stops him from switching to a different provider. Thanks to TRAI, they can even retain their number via MNP.

Movie streaming sites like Netflix had come under heavy criticism and scrutiny from ISPs in US due to their data-intensive business model that clogged the data bandwidth. When ISPs tried to increase the bandwidth to improve the scenario, streaming sites allowed higher resolution streaming thereby bringing the situation back to where it was. There was an ongoing debate on this front with the prospect of either blocking the streaming sites, charging higher for streaming sites alone or increasing the broadband charges across the board.
What if every operator follows airtel's lead? Where does the customer go then? When an ISP or mobile operator sells you bandwidth either with a cap or without, they are bound to deliver the same. If the user uses his full quota of bandwidth that he or she paid for and no more, the ISP should not be whining about the same. If Netflix requires bandwidth, so be it. If the ISP can't sustain the connections, they need to upgrade their backbone or stop advertising the connection as such. Beyond that, the ISP has no business with any of your data packets. In fact if they even try to figure out where your data packets are going for some other purpose other than just routing them, it is an invasion of privacy.

An analogy to a car would be that say Honda and Toyota sells a car to you with the condition attached that you can't drive it for more than 500 km every month and you can't take your car to your favorite hill station. Would you buy such a car?

Last edited by reignofchaos : 25th December 2014 at 23:45.
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Old 26th December 2014, 09:00   #21
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

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When an ISP or mobile operator sells you bandwidth either with a cap or without, they are bound to deliver the same. If the user uses his full quota of bandwidth that he or she paid for and no more, the ISP should not be whining about the same. If Netflix requires bandwidth, so be it. If the ISP can't sustain the connections, they need to upgrade their backbone or stop advertising the connection as such.
Any ISP is relying on the time-slicing principle to offer the speeds that we get, based on general usage pattern of people which doesn't mean everyone is using internet at full capacity 24x7. If everyone demands that they get the promised speeds round the clock and see themselves using it at higher data rate round the clock, the prices of these packages are going to sky rocket since the provider can only offer the service to a much smaller number of consumers that what it is now.

The rates that airtel currently demand for VOIP is their standard data tariff without any discounts. I see this as similar to the situation where they charge for SMS on festive days etc. even if you are subscribed to a free SMS pack to ensure there is a check on the load that they would get in their system. When SMS used to be free, everyone used to send the festive greetings to their entire contact list since it was 'free'. The moment it started getting charged, everyone started screening the same list and sent messages to only those that really matter, thereby bringing down the load on the system.

What was the benefit out of the SMS-charging move to consumers? Someone who wanted to send an urgent sms on a festive day used to face delivery delays in hours due to the load on the system. When you try calling, you used to get network busy. However, once it started getting charged, it is getting delivered in normal time frame and the phone is useful in case of an emergency.

Since no one would use a system responsibly when it is provided to them as free, I wouldn't mind a small charge associated to the usage to help the users with a genuine need get the desired service.

Last edited by zenren : 26th December 2014 at 09:01.
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Old 26th December 2014, 09:07   #22
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

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Someone who wanted to send an urgent sms on a festive day used to face delivery delays in hours due to the load on the system. When you try calling, you used to get network busy. However, once it started getting charged, it is getting delivered in normal time frame and the phone is useful in case of an emergency.
There is no such thing as urgent SMS. If it really is urgent, you call. Simple.
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Old 26th December 2014, 09:11   #23
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

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Originally Posted by zenren View Post
Any ISP is relying on the time-slicing principle to offer the speeds that we get, based on general usage pattern of people which doesn't mean everyone is using internet at full capacity 24x7. If everyone demands that they get the promised speeds round the clock and see themselves using it at higher data rate round the clock, the prices of these packages are going to sky rocket.
There is no time slicing involved in 3G. That is only involved in edge (2G) data. WCDMA is based on code division where more subscribers using the channel mean a slightly lower SNR for all which at worst can require a retransmission of the packet due to noise. So there is no question of prices skyrocketing - especially when there is a bandwidth cap. You are paying for say 2GB of 3G data. You should be provided 2GB of 3G data.

As far as DSL/Cable ISPs are required, they have something called a contention ratio (typically 1:4 or higher for home connections). This means you are sharing your pipe with 4 other connections. It does not mean you are not supposed to use the data that you have paid for.

Quote:
The rates that airtel currently demand for VOIP is their standard data tariff without any discounts. I see this as similar to the situation where they charge for SMS on festive days etc. even if you are subscribed to a free SMS pack to ensure there is a check on the load that they would get in their system. When SMS used to be free, everyone used to send the festive greetings to their entire contact list since it was 'free'. The moment it started getting charged, everyone started screening the same list and sent messages to only those that really matter, thereby bringing down the load on the system.

What was the benefit out of the SMS-charging move to consumers? Someone who wanted to send an urgent sms on a festive day used to face delivery delays in hours due to the load on the system. When you try calling, you used to get network busy. However, once it started getting charged, it is getting delivered in normal time frame and the phone is useful in case of an emergency.

Since no one would use a system responsibly when it is provided to them as free, I wouldn't mind a small charge associated to the usage to help the users with a genuine need get the desired service.
I have no issue of airtel charging whatever they want for their data as long as they charge the same for all kinds of data. If the money they charge is too low, let them hike rates and free market forces will determine whether they survive or die. No business is charity - everything is for profit. They are all within reason to charge 1000 rupees a KB or 1p a KB - it is completely in their hands.

However the problem here is not the charging of excess prices - it is the charging of different tariff based on the type of data transferred. That is strictly wrong as per net neutrality guidelines. I hope you understand what the major issue here is - it is not the cost of bandwidth, rather it is differential pricing for different types of data which is plain wrong.

As for SMS that you talk about - it still uses the antiquated 2G network. Also SMS does not go over the internet - hence differential pricing or whatever pricing does not matter there.
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Old 26th December 2014, 09:19   #24
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

Clearly conflict of interest it's high time mobile operators are forced to split ISP business and operate at arms length.

The issue is that change in technology will continue and old models will always have new challenges government should not allow operators from blocking the progress.
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Old 26th December 2014, 12:03   #25
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

Totally ridiculous! I think customers should just cancel their connections and move on to other service providers. Net neutrality is already been discussed and this in itself is enough for me to stay off.

Wiki page link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality

I am paying for the data and it is my business what i do with it. Not only is differential charges a concern, even things like throttling of data also are unfair practices these services providers throw at us. We need to have some strong and fast consumer courts in our country! That is the need of the hour.
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Old 26th December 2014, 12:20   #26
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

Would this affect existing users ? I am on a corporate plan at the moment and I pay a rather hefty bill already. The day they (Airtel) decide to charge me for VoIP services will be the day I port out of Airtel.
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Old 26th December 2014, 12:24   #27
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

Absolutely ridiculous and a complete disdain for net neutrality. Not sure what TRAI is doing and what is its role in the whole picture. As far as I am concerned, TRAI should protect the interests of the consumer and stand for net neutrality. This is a total disgrace.
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Old 26th December 2014, 12:29   #28
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

Ridiculous nonsense and that too 16 times higher. Who do they think they are, and how can something escalate in that denomination. All because of the uncontrolled pricing system in India. These fellows pay the politicians and do whatever they feel like and we have to pay the bill.
Would not mind strangulating whoever is behind this move which has no economic sense.
Hell with Airtel if they do so. I dont do VOIP but still with unstable internet speeds I wonder who is their target customer anymore.
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Old 26th December 2014, 12:32   #29
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

This is plain ridiculous :-( The only scenario where Airtel may have a justification to charging separately for VoIP flows is if they detect these data flows, and give it "priority" handling over all other data - i.e. the consumer gets better call quality even during congestion.
And if they do have such a service, it _must_ be optional as in the consumer chooses to use this 'premium' handling for his/her VoIP flows, or just go through the data bundle with all other traffic.

Thumbs down to Airtel. May other operators show more wisdom!
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Old 26th December 2014, 12:56   #30
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Default re: Airtel wants to charge extra for VOIP EDIT : Deferred for now

Use a VPN service - That is , till ISPs decides to start charging for VPN too .

I'm sure they have QOS to throttle VPN traffic,services that allow consumers to overcome these restrictions.

Ideally, setup a VPN server on your home broadband account ,and route all traffic through this.

On another note, If city wide WiFi is enabled, it would make sense for mobile devices to use the WIFI network rather than 3G/4G.
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