Millennium Post

Airtel determined in resolve to fleece consumers for VoIP calls

Standing by its decision to charge extra for services like Skype and Viber, telecom major Bharti Airtel said on Friday that allowing VoIP calls on mobiles without additional charges was not a tenable business. The company defended its position despite Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad saying on Thursday that the Government would look into the matter. He incidentally tweeted a news report in this regard.

Sources at Telecom Regulatory Authority of India also said that they are examining new tariff schemes of Airtel. Stating that it has invest over Rs 140,000 crore in rolling out telecom network over the past years, the firm said it will continue to "charge separately for VoIP services". The VoIP charges are over and above the fee that users pay Airtel for using data services.

"However, in line with our philosophy of putting our customers above all else, we are committed to making VoIP services extremely affordable and attractive by ensuring adequate minutes for a very small charge on VoIP," Airtel said in a statement.

Bharti Airtel has tweaked its mobile internet usage and said that VoIP calls service will not be included in internet schemes that it offers and will be charged at standard data rates of 4 paise per 10 KB on 3G network and 10 paise per 10 KB on 2G network.

Based on standard rates, usage of each GB of data for VoIP on 3G network will cost about Rs 4,000 and while the same on 2G network will cost about Rs 10,000. As per estimates, usage of 1 GB data can entail voice calls of about 10 hours, depending on various factors including speed and network strength, while data usage could be much higher for the video calls.

Skype and such apps have gained traction in the recent past mostly because of such services being offered for free and users only pay for the data usage, mostly bundled with the internet package paid for them.  The company announced new schemes costing Rs 75 under which a customer can make 200 to 250 minutes long VoIP calls. 
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