NEW DELHI: The telecom regulator is of the view that the controversial Airtel Zero plan prima facie violates the principle of net neutrality, disputing the contention by the country's largest telco that the controversial scheme is consistent with the concept of an open Internet.
"From the looks of it, Airtel Zero and many other plans including Facebook's Internet.org tie-up with RCom (Reliance Communications) and all these free WhatsApp, Facebook offers by other telcos seem to violate net neutrality," said a senior official at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
Bharti Airtel has written to Trai, describing its Airtel Zero scheme as a plain, open platform for app makers to provide toll-free data services, and one that doesn't discriminate against anyone, said people familiar with the development. The company has consistently maintained that its plan doesn't violate the concept of net neutrality, which guarantees consumers equal and non-discriminatory access to all data, apps and services on the Internet.
Airtel didn't respond to an emailed query on its communication to Trai.
The regulator disagrees, however, and is scrutinising the plan and all similar schemes, including Facebook's Internet.org tie up with RCom, which on the face of it violates the concept of an open Internet. On Wednesday, travel site Cleartrip withdrew from Internet.org over net neutrality concerns.
Most telcos such as Idea Cellular, Uninor and Tata Teleservices also have plans offering Facebook or WhatsApp at nominal charges.