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Fully support net-neutrality, Zero platform open to all: Airtel


New Delhi: Telecom major Airtel today said it fully supports the concept of net-neutrality and its ‘Airtel Zero’ platform is open to all on non-discriminatory basis.

The comments follow e-commerce major Flipkart’s decision to “walk away” from its proposed tie-up with Airtel that has been at the centre of a raging debate over a need to maintain equal Internet access for all.

“Airtel fully supports the concept of Net Neutrality. There have been some misconceptions about our toll free data platform – Airtel Zero. It is a not a tariff proposition but is an open marketing platform,” Airtel said in a statement.

Net neutrality implies equal treatment to all Internet traffic and any priority given to an application or company on payment basis is seen as violating the concept.

Airtel launched Airtel Zero platform last week that allows customers to access certain mobile applications for free with charges being borne by app makers.

“The toll free platform is open to all content providers on a completely non-discriminatory basis and operates on the same principle as 1-800 toll free voice services,” it said.

No site whether on the toll free platform or not under any circumstances is blocked, throttled or provided any form of preferential access, Airtel added.

Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal, who earlier defended ‘Airtel Zero’ and had criticised the opposition to it in the name of ‘net neutrality’, today walked out of its tie-up with for this platform saying that “we have always unequivocally supported net neutrality and will continue to do so”.

He had earlier tweeted in defence of Airtel Zero: “When foreign companies do it in India – Innovation. Indians do it – Violation. #NetNeutralityDiscrimination?”

This resulted in Flipkart drawing a lot of flak online with many users even deleting the app from their phones to show support for Net neutrality.

Airtel said the statement made by Flipkart regarding their decision not to offer toll free data service to their customers is consistent with the telecom firm stand that Airtel Zero is not a tariff proposition.

“It is merely an open platform for content providers to provide toll free data services. The platform remains open to all companies who want to offer these toll free data services to their customers on a completely non discriminatory basis,” Airtel said.

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