As the debate over Net Neutrality heats up in India, Flipkart, which is one of the partnering apps of the Airtel Zero programme, finds itself facing some serious heat on social media.
In order to defend their decision to join the Airtel Zero programme, Flipkart CEO Sachin Bansal took to Twitter to slam the so-called hypocrisy on ‘Net Neutrality’.
He tweeted saying that when ‘foreign companies’ offer ‘free services’ it is termed as innovation, hinting at the recently introduced Facebook-Reliance Internet.org. The Facebook-Reliance tie-up aims to provide access to popular websites including Facebook with zero data charge across 2G and 3G platforms.
In case of Airtel Zero, this is a programme that will allow app developers who tie-up with the company to allow consumers to access these apps for zero data charge. The app developers, companies will pay Airtel to keep their app usage free. Flipkart is rumoured to be one of the early partners in Airtel Zero.
Flipkart CEO Sachin Bansal defended his company’s decision to tie-up with Airtel, given that they have received a lot of negative response in light of the news, especially on social media.
Below are Bansal’s tweets:
However Bansal’s tweets haven’t really pacified users and many have said on social media that they will not use Flipkart’s app anymore. Below are some reactions:
The net neutrality debate is unlikely to die down anytime soon. While the Airtel Zero resulted in the debate generating interest on social media, last month the Telecomm Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had put out a paper titled, “Consultation Paper on Regulatory Framework for Over-the-top (OTT) services” which looks at exploring a regulatory framework for OTT services which includes popular apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, etc. The TRAI paper holds big implications for the future of net neutrality in India.
The paper also calls for written comments from stakeholders and posts a bunch of questions that should be answered The last date for comments is 24 April, 2015 and can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to the Airtel Zero controversy, a lot more people have shown interest in the debate and according to a Times of India report TRAI has already received over 27,000 emails in support of net neutrality. You can check out this site called netneutrality.in if you want to send responses to TRAI.
While Flipkart and even Airtel have defended their move, the reactions on social media make it evident that no one is buying their explanations for now.