Airtel offers free internet access under ‘Zero’ plan

Rajesh Kurup Thomas K Thomas Mumbai | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on April 05, 2015


Company plans to partner with app providers, counter FB’s

Bharti Airtel is launching a new platform that will enable users to get access to applications and services with zero data charges. Called ‘Airtel Zero’, the platform will allow users to access chat apps, e-commerce sites, gaming portals and other Internet-based services without having to pay for the data usage.

Under the new model, Airtel will collect the data charges from the app service providers.

Airtel is in talks with potential partners and is expected to launch with at least 100 apps on the platform.

“This is exciting for customers because a lot of their favourite apps can now be accessed without data charges, and a lot of new apps that small start-ups want to offer now become free,” said Srini Gopalan, Director, Consumer Business, at Bharti Airtel.

Airtel Zero, which will initially be accessible on the Android and iOS platforms, helps to reduce costs by one-third for start-ups into digital marketing.

Open platform

Asked if this platform goes against the principles of net neutrality, Gopalan said that everyone would be free to join the platform. “This is an open platform with non-discriminatory pricing, and we believe it will be a win-win for customers and e-commerce players,” he said.

Gopalan added that the new initiative was in sync with the Centre’s digital inclusion and Make in India vision.

The operator is in advanced talks with start-ups, as well as the largest e-commerce companies in the country, for partnerships.

Market watchers see this as a counter to schemes such as started by Facebook, which aims to make internet access free for users.

Until now, while this has been driven by internet companies, telecom companies bore the cost of offering subsidised internet connections.

On the Airtel Zero platform, it is the internet companies that will foot the bill.

Published on April 05, 2015
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