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Win for Net Neutrality: Public outrage forces Flipkart to pull out of Airtel Zero partnership


The past couple of days haven’t been really comforting for the country’s leading e-commerce site, Flipkart. From downvoting its app to facing backclash on Twitter, the company’s support for Airtel Zero hasn’t gone down well with net neutrality supporters. Some even took to reminding CEO Sachin Bansal about his startup days and how difficult it could have been to compete on a platform like Airtel Zero.

Now, Flipkart has finally decided to pull out of Airtel Zero. In an official statement issued by the company, Flipkart says it ‘strongly believes in the concept of net neutrality’ and after a lot of dabate has finally decided to walk away from the ongoing discussion with Airtel for the platform Zero.
Flipkart also said it will be commiting towards the larger cause of Net Neutrality in India. The e-commerce site will have internal discussions over the next few days, and contribute to support the cause. It will be working to ensure net neutrality is ‘applied equally to all companies in India irrespective of the size or the services they offer.

Here’s the complete official statement from Flipkart:
We at Flipkart have always strongly believed in the concept of net neutrality, for we exist because of the Internet. Over the past few days, there has been a great amount of debate, both internally and externally, on the topic of zero rating, and we have a deeper understanding of the implications. Based on this, we have decided on the following:

  • We will be walking away from the ongoing discussions with Airtel for their platform Airtel Zero.
  • We will be committing ourselves to the larger cause of Net Neutrality in India. We will be internally discussing over the next few days, the details of actions we will take to support the cause.
  • We will be working towards ensuring that the spirit of net neutrality is upheld and applied equally to all companies in India irrespective of the size or the service being offered and there is absolutely no discrimination whatsoever.

For those who’ve been still living in a cave, Net Neutrality means Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.To put it out straight, if there is no net neutrality, the Internet won’t function as we’ve known it too. It will mean Internet Service Providers (ISP) will be able to charge companies like YouTube as they consume more bandwidth, and eventually the load of the extra sum will be pushed to the consumers. Similarly, ISPs can then create slow as well as fast Internet lanes, which will mean all websites cannot be accessed at the same speed and one can do so only on paying an additional sum.

Moreover, free internet sounds tempting, but you need to be aware that you are only getting free access to services/apps which have struck a deal with the telcos. App developers and services flush with funds will not find it an issue to pay telcos for data charges incurred by users. But this can leave app developers, specially start ups, who cannot afford telcos’ data rates are at a definite disadvantage.
Protesting against rules trying to redefine the Internet, a website called www.savetheinternet.in was set up where anyone can send a mail directly to Trai, expressing their grief and discomfort about how telecom carriers are snatching away free Internet from them. In three days, netizens in India have reportedly sent more than 1.5 lakh e-mail petitions to Trai.

To know more about Net Neutrality and how this should concern every Indian, click here.

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