Bharti Airtel's latest decision to charge extra money for the use of Internet call services (VoIP) such as Skype, Viber and Facebook Messenger has swung the Indian government into action.
On Thursday, speaking on the sidelines of Good Governance Day event organised by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "We will look into it. Government will come back with a structured response," as quoted by PTI.
The decision comes after Bharti Airtel Ltd, India's largest telecommunications carrier announced that the company will charge extra tariff from its users for internet voice calls .The move has invited criticism from several quarters.
Announcing the decision to launch an independent pack for voice services, Airtel said on its website: "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)."
For long, telecom service providers in the country have been fighting to bring services such as Whatsapp, Skype and Viber under regulation as they believe that these services use the telecom carriers' infrastructure to make profit. Airtel is the first one to separate VoIP from normal data pack.However it is not clear which of these services Airtel identifies as VoIP providers.
"Our customers can continue enjoying voice calls over data connectivity by opting for this VoIP pack, or simply use VoIP services on pay-as-you-go basis," Airtel said in a statement.