Bharti Airtel's Airtel Zero: Violation of Net Neutrality?
(6 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In April 2015, Bharti Airtel — India’s largest telecom provider and a leading global telecommunications company — launched Airtel Zero, an open marketing platform that would allow Airtel customers to access mobile applications with zero data charges. Application developers would pay Airtel to join the platform, but would in turn attract more users to their products. Immediately after its launch, Airtel Zero was subjected to severe criticism on the grounds that it violated the net neutrality principle, which advocated that content should be available to customers without any form of prioritization. Subsequently, in support of net neutrality, Flipkart — a prominent Indian e-commerce company — pulled out of the platform. Was Airtel Zero a potential threat to net neutrality? With the pending decision of the government of India on the regulatory framework for over-the-top (OTT) applications and services, would Airtel Zero stand out as a viable platform?
This case is suitable for use in MBA and executive MBA courses on information systems, e-business and business environments. Students will:
- Understand the issues faced by telecom service providers (TSPs) in view of OTT applications and services, and understand the need of TSPs to come up with new service offerings.
- Become familiar with the importance of the synchronization of new service offerings with the external environment.
- Understand the importance of net neutrality and analyze the situation of Airtel Zero and start-up OTTs in the absence of net neutrality.
- Understand the future prospects of Airtel Zero with net neutrality in mind.
Information, Media & Telecommunications
India, Large, 2014-2015
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