Flipkart pulls out of Airtel Zero Partnership

Over the past few days, netizens have been protesting against Flipkart and Airtel for violating net neutrality. TRAI, aka telecom regulatory authority of India put forward a consultation paper asking for public opinion about over the top services such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp. What telecom operators were demanding was completely unethical. They wanted to charge you extra for using these apps. While Airtel tried to put forward the gimmick of charging zero for using such apps, it is however clear violation of net neutrality. If you’re not sure of what net neutrality is, this video by AIB would help you a lot in understanding the basic implications of it.

Well, it is time to pat yourself because Flipkart which was first to join Airtel Zero platform has finally decided to pull out of this partnership citing public opinion and internal debate. Flipkart has officially announced that they are walking away from Airtel Zero platform. In statement issued by Flipkart, company has acknowledged that they exist because of the internet and they are not only pulling out of this deal but also putting its weight behind net neutrality.

In the past few days, Flipkart faced widespread criticism from netizens which resulted in massive revolt against its app on play store as well as apple store. Users started down rating Flipkart apps to one star which was followed by massive uninstall Flipkart app campaign. This outrage was so huge that prominent media channels started reporting the story and within few hours it was all there as breaking news.

Obviously such outrage wasn’t expected by Flipkart and it seems that it has stuck the chord well. Here is the full official statement issued by Flipkart.

Tweet by Flipkart

Official Statement by 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

Earlier, Sachin Bansal, tried to convince users that Airtel Zero would be beneficial for end consumers as it will keep the internet charges low thereby giving more power to users. However, this is not what is actually going to happen. While it may keep the charges low, it will also restrict users from using certain set of applications.

Netizens have started giving 5 stars back!

Flipkart Rating - Net Neutrality

Few netizens have started restoring their rating back after this news. We observed some these users on play store and it seems that users have finally decided to put their thank you note.

It would be interesting to see how Airtel reacts to this. IT and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has already said that government is examining the issue of net neutrality and its advantages along with the implications. Such discriminatory pricing is direct threat to the PM Modi’s vision of digital India. Additionally, we have one more update about the number of emails. It seems that the TRAI has so far received more than 2.25 lakh emails as of today.

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