A victory for netizens: Flipkart pulls out of Airtel Zero after social media backlash

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New Delhi, April 14: Amid a raging debate over equal Internet access for all, online marketplace Flipkart on Tuesday said it will walk away from ongoing discussions with telecom service provider Airtel for their platform 'Airtel Zero'.

"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," a company spokesperson said.

Flipkart pulls out of Airtel Zero

Earlier this week, it was reported that the online retail gaint was planning to join Airtel Zero, that will enable companies to buy data from telcos and offer it to their consumers for free.

What is Airtel Zero?

Launched last week, Airtel Zero is an open-marketing platform that allows customers to access a variety of mobile applications for free, with the data charges being paid by the applications.

It allows people to access some apps and websites without paying data charges as long as the makers of those apps and services pay Airtel for this free access.

[Save the internet campaign: Indians send over 1.5 lakh emails to TRAI for net neutrality]

Flipkart's full statement on Net neutrality

A Nextbigwhat.com report has quoted the statement by e-commerce giant as, "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.

[What is Net Neutrality and Save The Internet: Explained]

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 irrespect India irrespective of the size or the service being offered and there is absolutely no discrimination whatsoever." 

What is Internet Neutrality?

Network neutrality is the idea that your cellular, cable, or phone internet connection should provide access to all websites and online traffic in 'neutral' and 'equal' manner, without giving priority to any other website.

[Report on net neutrality by mid-May: Ravi Shankar Prasad]

What TRAI says?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is mulling to form proper guidelines regarding net neutrality. Till now, India has no laws governing net neutrality. Even though the internet had been neutral and unregulated since 1998, in 2006, TRAI had invited opinions regarding the regulation of net neutrality from various telecom industry bodies and stakeholders. In March, telecom regulator TRAI has released a paper inviting comments from users and companies on how over-the-top services should be regulated in the country. It has asked stakeholders to send suggestions by April 24 and counter arguments need to be submitted by May 8.

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