Take it as a caution while Airtel is now began charging extra bucks for VoIP calls on 3G and 2G EDGE networks even if you are using its best packages. India’s leading cellphone carrier and could be the second largest Asia Pacific network has started charges for voice over IP calls, either it may be a 2G or 3G. What actually it means to many?
This basically includes those voice calls made using services like Skype, Viber, and Google Hangouts, among others through the devices 3G or 2G network will be charged extra. The VoIP data will be charged separately and won’t be part of your existing data packs.
For example, if you’re using Skype or Viber or any other voice calling services via internet and of course using Airtel 3G for 20 minutes which in fact consumes 50MB or so, you will need to pay for the data charges separately, and it will not be deducted from your 2G or 3G data pack which your already been using.
Without any official announcement, the change in the policy appears as a sneaky fine print on the company website that states “”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).”
Just in time ahead of WhatsApp voice calling service introduction, Airtel made its decision that took millions of Airtel post-paid customers into wild. With WhatsApp already having replaced SMS in India almost entirely, carriers are afraid of VoIP will soon replace regular calling, turning them into dumb data pipes.
Remind you about the TRAI, which was looking to put charges for over-the-top (OTT) app players like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber etc. to operate, but later rejected its proposal. If you don’t know, WhatsApp and Skype both chatting apps doesn’t consume much data and even works on 2G EDGE, but keep in mind that voice calls consume more than enough data.
This move is against the principles of NET Neutrality, which states all data should be treated equally, which in fact remains to be seen if other carriers in India will join Airtel in this next move, and wait for TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has to say about this.
Updated X1: Update: An Airtel representative said to MediaNama that it plans to introduce an independent pack for VoIP connectivity, hence it has revised its data packs and charges for VoIP services on pay-as-you-go basis.