Flipkart Backs Out Of Airtel Zero

14/04/2015 12:21 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Flipkart's application loading page, left, and the Myntra.com website are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5c and iPad respectively an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Flipkart, India's largest online retailer, will buy competitor Myntra.com, according to people with knowledge of the talks, to gain a business with higher margins and strengthen its position in the local market against Amazon.com Inc. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Indian e-commerce retailer Flipkart has decided to pull out of Airtel Zero. An official statement from the company says that they will be “walking away from the ongoing discussions with Airtel”, and they will be committing themselves to the larger cause of Net Neutrality In India.

"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" the official statement reads.

The latest development comes one day after Flipkart CEO said in an interview that he only wanted equality with global internet companies who had struck Zero rating deals, and compared the situation to apartheid.

There was a wide-spread backlash on Internet users over Flipkart’s decision to join the Airtel Zero platform, which allows companies to pay for data charges incurred by the customer. Reddit run campaigns saw Flipkart and Airtel’s apps receive 1-star ratings on the app store.

The SaveTheInternet campaign, which offers a template response to TRAI’s 20 questions has seen over 300,000 emails being sent to TRAI in three days.

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

Official Statement From Airtel

Airtel fully supports the concept of Net Neutrality. There have been some misconceptions about our toll free data platform – Airtel Zero. It is a not a tariff proposition but is an open marketing platform that:

1. Allows any application or content provider to offer their service on a toll free basis to their customers who are on our network.

2. Such customers whether on a data pack or not will therefore be able to access these toll free services free of charge.

3. No site whether on the toll free platform or not under any circumstances is blocked, throttled or provided any form of preferential access.

4. The toll free platform is open to all content providers on a completely non discriminatory basis and operates on the same principle as 1-800 toll free voice services.

The statement made by Flipkart regarding their decision not to offer toll free data service to their customers is consistent with our stand that Airtel Zero is not a tariff proposition. It is merely an open platform for content providers to provide toll free data services. The platform remains open to all companies who want to offer these toll free data services to their customers on a completely non discriminatory basis.

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