When I first read about Flipkart’s deal with Airtel Zero, I was disappointed as I have always thought of Flipkart as a progressive new-age hep company, and this seemed to be a Net Neutrality violation 101.
Airtel on Monday launched a service called Airtel Zero. On the face of it, this looks like just a regular value added service from a telecom operator. It is meant for app developers and web service providers. The plan, as Airtel explains, is to allow app developers or web service providers to pay money to Airtel so that these apps and services can be accessed by Airtel users for free.
This means if an app pays money to Airtel, consumers on Airtel network will be able to use it without paying any data charges. For example, consumers who have Flipkart installed — Flipkart is rumoured to be a company paying Airtel money to be part of the Zero plan — will be able to access the app without paying data charge
Net neutrality, for those of you who don’t know and I am assuming that’s none of you, is the principle by which internet service providers cannot discriminate on the basis of origin or type of traffic when it comes to delivery to end-users (i.e. to you and me who pay for internet access). In other words, a service provider like Airel cannot discriminate, in terms of price or speed, between traffic from website A and website B. By discriminating between traffic to Flipkart/any of the business entities that sign onto their Airtel Zero platform and those that do not, Airtel is most definitely violating the principle of net neutrality.