Yesterday, Bharti Airtel — one of the largest mobile network operators in India — made a change to its mobile data usage policy that barred its subscribers from using their normal 2G/3G data packs to make VoIP based calls.
As a follow-up to its controversial change, the company has today announced the roll out of a VoIP exclusive pack of Rs. 75 that will offer 75MB of data over a period of 28 days. The carrier states that this data is enough to allow its subscribers to make nearly 200-250 mins of calls. The company also plans on rolling out VoIP plans for its postpaid subscribers in the coming weeks.
The changes in Airtel’s data usage policy is not rolling out immediately. Instead, the carrier will be implementing it in a phased manner over the next few week and will be taking all steps to inform its users about this change. The carrier also states that if a prepaid subscriber has recharged for a data pack before 24th December, the new data usage rules will not apply to them.
Below is the official statement from Airtel.
Our Customers can enjoy a superior VoIP calling experience on Airtel’s network by choosing from a range of new VoIP specific data packs that will soon be launched. The Rs 75 package will allow customers to make between 200 and 250 minutes of calling. There would be no other charges in respective of VoIP calls.
VoIP services in their current form are not tenable for us as a business. As a result, we will charge separately for VoIP 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.
This move from Airtel has also garnered it a lot of negative publicity and anger from existing customers who are threatening to switch to other networks now. At the moment, it is unclear if other carriers in India will follow Airtel’s suit or continue to provide a single data pack for browsing as well as VoIP based services.