‘Airtel Zero, Internet.org against net neutrality’

IndiaNEW DELHI: Airtel’s Zero Rating platform and the Facebook-Reliance Communications combine’s internet.org plan have been found to be against the spirit of net neutrality by a preliminary inquiry conducted by the telecom ministry. The findings assume significance as they come at a time when a high-level committee of the ministry is finalizing a regulatory set-up for various issues related to net neutrality. Also, the committee will define how telecom operators are to deal with numerous internet websites, or over-the-top (OTT) players, who ride on their network.


How Indian telcos monitor brand image on social media

IndiaKOLKATA: Mobile carriers have silently turned to cool web-crawling technologies and analytics to instantly latch on to any negative customer buzz regarding their services and brand reputation across social media circles, and take corrective action. India’s No. 3 mobile carrier, Idea Cellular, said it uses analytics and web-crawling tools, to monitor and listen to customers on a 24×7 basis and provide quick resolution to their service needs.


Airtel rolls out 4G trial in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam

China.gifHYDERABAD: Bharti Airtel has said it has launched 4G trials exclusively for its existing customers in Hyderabad in Telangana and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. As part of this, customers across these two cities can now avail of a complimentary upgrade to Airtel 4G at 3G prices, Airtel said in a statement. Announcing the beta launch, Venkatesh Vijayraghavan, CEO – Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Bharti Airtel (India), said the company had made significant investments in building a robust 4G network.


COAI has task cut out for new Trai chief, from IN

IndiaKOLKATA: With the government poised to appoint a new Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman following Rahul Khullar’s recent retirement, India’s GSM carriers will shortly approach the sector regulator to persuade the telecom department (DoT) to finalize the data services deactivation and re-activation drill using a designated toll free short code. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the GSM trade body representing mobile carriers such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular amongst others, will shortly urge the next Trai chairman to “get the 1925 short code allotted by the DoT at the earliest for the purpose of data services de-activation and re-activation.”


Bharti Airtel gets $2.5 billion credit line from Chinese banks

IndiaSHANGHAI: Bharti Airtel has said it has received financing commitments of up to $2.5 billion from China Development Bank and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, with an average maturity of about nine years. The company signed the term sheets for the financing options in the presence of PM Narendra Modi, who is currently on an official visit to China. Airtel said the funds will help the company further diversify its global financing pool and invest in growth of data networks.


Airtel testing 4G in Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad

IndiaNEW DELHI: Telecom major Bharti Airtel will start 4G services trial in Chennai from May 14 and after that in Mumbai and Hyderabad by the end of this month.  “Airtel will start trial of 4G services in Chennai from May 14 in 1800MHz band. It has sent out invite to some bloggers to experience its services,” according to a source.  When contacted, Bharti Airtel spokesperson declined to comment.


Bharti Airtel Q4 profit up 30.5% to Rs 1,255 crore

IndiaMUMBAI: India’s top mobile carrier Bharti Airtel reported a 30.5% rise in quarterly net profit, helped by strong subscriber growth for its mobile data services, although the rise was smaller than expected.  Bharti Airtel, which operates in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, said on Tuesday net profit rose to Rs 1255 crore ($198.80 million) for its fiscal fourth quarter to March 31, from Rs 962 crore a year earlier.


Airtel may soon launch 4G services in Delhi

IndiaNEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel may soon launch 4G services in Delhi as it has got the go-ahead in this regard from the Department of Telecom (DoT). Airtel’s 4G launch in Delhi has been mired in a legal case. The telecom major had got the required spectrum for 4G services through acquisition of Wireless Business Services Pvt Ltd (now Airtel Broadband Services).  The DoT had raised a demand of Rs 436 crore from Airtel for merging Airtel Broadband Services (ABSPL) with itself. The company opposed it and approached TDSAT regarding the matter.


The war over Zero rating, from India

IndiaThe crescendo of shrill cries outside forced the top management of Flipkart into quiet introspection within. Last week, it abandoned a ‘zero rating’ discussion with Airtel only eight days after the telecom operator unveiled it. Under this arrangement, Airtel users would have been able to access Flipkart.com for free, with Flipkart paying Airtel for data consumed by users.


‘Telcos only intermediaries, can’t go against net neutrality’

IndiaNEW DELHI: Amid the raging debate globally over net neutrality, which has evoked a strong reaction from stakeholders in India, domain experts feel that an unshackled access to the internet world isn’t feasible in India yet but attempts must continue for egalitarianism. “Building a net neutral network is technologically not possible to implement. It’s a utopian idea — no basis in technology,” said Ravi VS Prasad, a telecom consultant who has designed several data-com and telecom networks in the past 30 years.


Net neutrality: Airtel CEO sends letter to employees

IndiaNEW DELHI: In the eye of the storm over net neutrality, Bharti Airtel today said it will always provide same treatment to every website and application irrespective of whether they are on its toll free platform or not. Launched last week, Airtel Zero is an open-marketing platform that allows customers to access certain mobile apps for free with charges being borne by the app makers. The company has drawn flak on social media for violating the concept of net neutrality.


Airtel may withdraw Zero plan: Analysts

IndiaNEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel’s controversial Airtel Zero plan, apart from facing a severe social media backlash, is being panned by its competitors who are apprehensive that similar schemes of theirs will come under consumer and regulatory scrutiny. The stock slumped 3.58% to Rs 409.25 in intraday trade. While Airtel has consistently maintained that the plan doesn’t violate the concept of an open internet, experts say the company’s brand image, especially among the youth, has taken a beating, and India’s largest telco may have to withdraw the plan to undo the damage.


Flipkart pulls out of Airtel’s net neutrality violating Airtel Zero

IndiaBENGALURU: Startup entrepreneurs erupted in joy after the country’s largest online retailer Flipkart retreated from a programme that critics said could have resulted in an unequal Internet and stifled competition. By turning its back on India’s largest mobile phone company Airtel, Flipkart is responding to pressure from within and without after severe criticism of its intention to use its substantial financial muscle to subsidise users of its app, analysts said. In a statement on Tuesday, Flipkart said it is “walking away” from talks with Airtel, and even took a swipe at the telecom company by remarking that the ‘Airtel Zero’ subsidisation platform violates its “principles”.


Spectrum auction: Government gets Rs 32,300 crore from telcos

IndiaNEW DELHI: The government has received a total upfront payment of over Rs 32,300 crore from telecom players against the spectrum sold during the March auction, well above the minimum outstanding due of Rs 28,835.34 crore. Telecom major Bharti Airtel has paid the entire sum for Rajasthan and North East circles. The Department of Telecom (DoT) has received Rs 32,377.85 crore, nearly Rs 3,500 crore above the minimum due, sources told .


Net neutrality: Airtel Zero is threat to Digital India plan

IndiaNEW DELHI: The political class jumped into the burning issue of net neutrality with Parliamentarians Tathagata Satpathy and Rajeev Chandrasekhar saying that any move to allow telecom operators to charge subscribers separately for using some apps would restrict people’s access to internet and go against the Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India. In a recent letter to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman Rahul Khullar, Satpathy, an MP from Odisha representing the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), backed the concept of net neutrality, which envisages that service providers will treat all data on the internet equally and not impose differential pricing or discriminate among users, content sites, platforms and apps, also known as over-the-top (OTT) services.


App developers, tech startups slam Airtel Zero

IndiaNEW DELHI: Tech startups and small app developers have slammed Bharti Airtel’s move to allow mobile phone users free access to certain websites, saying the step, and similar ones by other telcos, would hurt them as they don’t have the financial muscle to pay to get preferential access to a carrier’s users.  “Airtel’s new marketing platform basically implies that telecom operators will control which technology comes up and which doesn’t. This is extremely unhealthy,” says Sunal Jain, founder and chief executive of MobiNxt Studios, a Chicago and New Delhi-based one-year-old app developer.


Airtel Zero: Another blow to net neutrality

IndiaNEW DELHI: Airtel has launched ‘Airtel Zero,’ a platform through which it will offer users free access to certain mobile apps. These apps will be from developers who have signed up with the company. Through the scheme, app developers and internet content service providers (or over-the-top content providers) will be able to make some part of or their entire mobile app free for customers. This implies that users will not have to pay data charges (or get usage allowance deducted from their data packs) when they access these apps via Airtel’s mobile data network.


Airtel, Idea, Vodafone partly pay their upfront amount

IndiaNEW DELHI: Successful spectrum bidders, including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone, have made over Rs 7,000 crore towards upfront payments — a move that will help the government narrow its fiscal deficit target for the fiscal ending.  Also, others telecom firms such as Reliance Jio and Tata Teleservices that won airwaves in the recent spectrum auction have committed to pay by evening today. Airtel has paid about Rs 5,000 crore while Idea Cellular deposited around Rs 2,000 crore as part payment for spectrum they acquired in auction last week. Vodafone has also paid some amount but the exact number could not be ascertained.


Bharti Airtel partners Amazon for cloud services

IndiaNEW DELHI: Telecom major Bharti Airtel has announced partnership with Amazon Web Services to offer its cloud computing services to customers in India. “In line with this market adoption, we are excited to strengthen Airtel’s cloud services portfolio by adding Amazon Web Services to our growing list of cloud services providers. We are confident that this will help our global customers truly leverage the benefits of cloud,” Bharti Airtel’s Global Business CEO Ajay Chitkara said in a statement.


Spectrum wars: Vodafone takes on RJio

IndiaMUMBAI: It’s a clash of the moneybags, with Vodafone India aiming to pay back Reliance Jio Infocomm in its own coin as the spectrum auction enters its last leg with overall bids reaching Rs 107,709 crore, crossing the previous record set in 2010.  After Jio pushed Vodafone India, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular into a bidding war for the 900MHz band, a move aimed at draining their resources, the local unit of Vodafone, backed by its deep-pocketed UK parent, is doing the same thing: pushing prices up in the 800MHz CDMA band which is being sought by Mukesh Ambani-controlled Jio to deploy 4G in future, people tracking the auctions said.