Bharti Airtel

"Airtel" redirects here. For other uses, see Airtel (disambiguation).
This article is about Bharti Airtel worldwide. For Bharti Airtel's telecommunication operations in India, see Airtel India.
Bharti Airtel Limited
Traded as BSE: 532454 NSE: BHARTIARTL
BSE SENSEX Constituent
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 7 July 1995[1]
Founder Sunil Bharti Mittal
Headquarters Bharti Crescent, 1, Nelson Mandela Road, New Delhi, India[1]
Area served
India, Sri Lanka and 17 countries across Africa
Key people
Sunil Bharti Mittal (Chairman and MD)
Products Fixed line and mobile telephony, broadband and fixed-line internet services, digital television and IPTV
Revenue 966.021 billion (US$14 billion) (2016)
341 billion (US$5.1 billion) (2016)
Profit 54 billion (US$800 million) (2016)
Total assets 2,248 billion (US$33 billion) (2016)
Total equity 708 billion (US$11 billion) (2016)
Members 324.37 Mn (March 2015)
Number of employees
24,868 (2016)[2]
Parent Bharti Enterprises (68%)[3][4]
Subsidiaries Airtel India
Airtel Sri Lanka
airtel Africa

Bharti Airtel is an Indian global telecommunications services company based in New Delhi, India. It operates in 19 countries across South Asia and Africa. Airtel provides GSM, 3G and 4G LTE mobile services, fixed line broadband and voice services depending upon the country of operation. It is the largest mobile network operator in India and the third largest in the world with 325 million subscribers.[5][6] Airtel was named India's second most valuable brand in the first ever Brandz ranking by Millward Brown and WPP plc.[7]

Airtel is credited with pioneering the business strategy of outsourcing all of its business operations except marketing, sales and finance and building the 'minutes factory' model of low cost and high volumes. The strategy has since been adopted by several operators.[8] Airtel's equipment is provided and maintained by Ericsson and Nokia Solutions and Networks[9] whereas IT support is provided by IBM.[10] The transmission towers are maintained by subsidiaries and joint venture companies of Bharti including Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers in India.[11] Ericsson agreed for the first time to be paid by the minute for installation and maintenance of their equipment rather than being paid up front, which allowed Airtel to provide low call rates of 1 (1.5¢ US)/minute.[12]


In 1984, Sunil Mittal started assembling push-button phones in India,[13] which he earlier used to import from a Taiwan company, Kingtel, replacing the old fashioned, bulky rotary phones that were in use in the country then. Bharti Telecom Limited (BTL) was incorporated and entered into a technical tie up with Siemens AG of Germany for manufacture of electronic push button phones. By the early 1990s, Bharti was making fax machines, cordless phones and other telecom gear.[14] He named his first push-button phones as 'Mitbrau'.

In 1992, he successfully bid for one of the four mobile phone network licences auctioned in India.[14] One of the conditions for the Delhi cellular license was that the bidder have some experience as a telecom operator. So, Mittal clinched a deal with the French telecom group Vivendi. He was one of the first Indian entrepreneurs to identify the mobile telecom business as a major growth area. His plans were finally approved by the Government in 1994[13] and he launched services in Delhi in 1995, when Bharti Cellular Limited (BCL) was formed to offer cellular services under the brand name AirTel. Within a few years Bharti became the first telecom company to cross the 2-million mobile subscriber mark. Bharti also brought down the STD/ISD cellular rates in India under brand name 'Indiaone'.[13]

In 1999, Bharti Enterprises acquired control of JT Holdings, and extended cellular operations to Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In 2000, Bharti acquired control of Skycell Communications, in Chennai. In 2001, the company acquired control of Spice Cell in Calcutta. Bharti Enterprises went public in 2002, and the company was listed on Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange of India. In 2003, the cellular phone operations were re-branded under the single Airtel brand. In 2004, Bharti acquired control of Hexacom and entered Rajasthan. In 2005, Bharti extended its network to Andaman and Nicobar. This expansion allowed it to offer voice services all across India.

Airtel launched "Hello Tunes", a Caller ring back tone service (CRBT), in July 2004 becoming to the first operator in India to do so. The Airtel theme song, composed by A.R. Rahman, was the most popular tune on that year.[15]

In May 2008, it emerged that Airtel was exploring the possibility of buying the MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company with coverage in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The Financial Times reported that Bharti was considering offering US$45 billion for a 100% stake in MTN, which would be the largest overseas acquisition ever by an Indian firm. However, both sides emphasise the tentative nature of the talks, while The Economist magazine noted, "If anything, Bharti would be marrying up," as MTN has more subscribers, higher revenues and broader geographic coverage.[16] However, the talks fell apart as MTN Group tried to reverse the negotiations by making Bharti almost a subsidiary of the new company.[17] In May 2009, Bharti Airtel again confirmed that it was in talks with MTN and the companies agreed to discuss the potential transaction exclusively by 31 July 2009. Talks eventually ended without agreement, some sources stating that this was due to opposition from the South African government.[18]

In 2009, Bharti negotiated for its strategic partner Alcatel-Lucent to manage the network infrastructure for the fixed line business. Later, Bharti Airtel awarded the three-year contract to Alcatel-Lucent for setting up an Internet Protocol access network across the country. This would help consumers access internet at faster speed and high quality internet browsing on mobile handsets.[19]

In 2009, Airtel launched its first international mobile network in Sri Lanka.[20] In June 2010, Bhartil acquired the African business of Zain Telecom for $10.7 billion making it the largest ever acquisition by an Indian telecom firm.[21] In 2012, Bharti tied up with Wal-Mart, the US retail giant, to start a number of retail stores across India.[22] In 2014, Bharti planned to acquire Loop Mobile for 7 billion (US$100 million), but the deal was called off later.[23]

Bharti Airtel Limited ("Airtel"), the world's third largest mobile operator with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa, today said that its Treasury division has been adjudged as a highly commended winner of the Top Treasury Team (Asia) Awards at the Adam Smith Asia Awards 2015.[24]

Airtel India

Main article: airtel India

Airtel India is the largest provider of mobile telephony and second largest provider of fixed telephony in India, and is also a provider of broadband and subscription television services. It offers its telecom services under the "airtel" brand, and is headed by Sunil Bharti Mittal.

Corporate structure

Airtel has two distinct Customer Business Units (CBU) with focus on B2C (Business to Customer) and B2B (Business to Business) segments. Airtel's B2C business unit deals with servicing the retail consumers, homes and small offices providing mobile, fixed line, DTH and m-commerce services while the B2B unit deals with large corporate accounts.


Airtel Broadband Blocking TPB

Under the Telemedia segment, Airtel provides broadband internet access through DSL, internet leased lines as well as MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) solutions, as well as IPTV and fixed line telephone services. Until 18 September 2004, Bharti provided fixed line telephony and broadband services under the Touchtel brand. Bharti now provides all telecom services including fixed line services under a common brand airtel. As of September 2012, Airtel provides Telemedia services to 3.3 million customers in 87 cities.[25] As on 30 November 2012, Airtel had 1.39 million broadband subscribers.[26]

Airtel Broadband provides broadband and IPTV services. Airtel provides both capped as well as unlimited download plans. However, Airtel's unlimited plans are subject to free usage policy (FUP), which reduces speed after the customer crosses a certain data usage limit. In most of the plans, Airtel provides only 512kbit/s beyond FUP, which is lower than the TRAI specified limit of half the subscriber's original speed.[27][28] The maximum speed available for home users is 16Mbit/s.

In May 2012, Airtel Broadband and some other Indian ISPs temporarily blocked file sharing websites such as,, etc. with out giving any legal information to the customers.[29]

Digital television

Main article: Airtel digital TV

The Digital television business provides Direct-to-Home (DTH) TV services across India under the brand name Airtel digital TV. It started services on 9 October 2008 and had about 7.9 million customers at the end of December 2012.[30]


The Enterprise business provides end-to-end telecom solutions to corporate customers and national and international long-distance services to telcos through its nationwide fibre optic backbone, last mile connectivity in fixed-line and mobile circles, VSATs, ISP and international bandwidth access through the gateways and landing stations. It has two sections under it.

Mobile data service

The different services under mobile data are BlackBerry services, a web-enabled mobile email solution working on 'Push Technology', USB modem that helps in getting instant access to Internet and corporate applications, Airtel Data Card that gives the liberty to access the internet anytime, Easy Mail is a platform that provides access to personal/corporate e-mails independent of handset operating system and application services that shorten the queues at the billing section, off-load the pressure on the billing staff and bring convenience to the user.

Enterprise business solutions

There are two kinds of solutions offered by Airtel. One is GPRS Based Solutions like mobile applications tools for enterprise, TrackMate, automatic meter reading solutions etc. and the other is SMS Based Solutions like interactive sms, bulk sms, inbound call centre solutions.

The ‘India with Airtel’ package is said to be a one-stop-shop for availing all telecom and connectivity solutions including mobile and fixed telephony, global and domestic data capacity and connectivity solutions, VSAT, Virtual Private Network, data centre and cloud solutions, Value Added Services and payment and billing integration, machine-to-machine, and managed services.[31]

Android-based tablet

Beetel Teletech Ltd., a unit of Bharti Enterprises Ltd., on 18 August 2011, launched a 9,999 (US$150) 7-inch tablet in India based on Google Inc.'s Android operating system. The offering is intended to capitalise on the expected demand for cheap computing devices in the world's fastest-growing and second-largest mobile phone market.[32]

International presence

Coverage map of Bharti Airtel across 19 countries

Airtel is the one of the largest mobile operator in the world in terms of subscriber base and has a commercial presence in 19 countries and the Channel Islands, Baysquare Technology developed a Settlement and Reconciliation Tool (SRT) to reconcile from various data streams. The system was developed to match the calls being captured by the network elements and the calls getting rated, i.e. ensuring that operator is billing all calls its serves and also it is paying out to other operators the correct billing amounts.

Its area of operations include:

Airtel operates in the following countries:

Country Site Remarks
 Burkina Faso airtel Burkina Faso Airtel Burkina Faso is the dominant player with 1,433,000 customers representing 50% market share.[33]
 Chad airtel Chad Airtel Chad is the No. 1 operator with 69% market share.[33]
 Democratic Republic of the Congo airtel DRC Airtel is the market leader with almost 5 million customers at the end of 2010.
 Gabon airtel Gabon Airtel Gabon has 829,000 customers and its market share stood at 61%.[34]
 Ghana airtel Ghana Airtel Ghana had about 1.76 million customers at the end of 2010.[35]
 India airtel India Airtel is the market leader with almost 193.4 million customers as on 30 September 2013.[36]
 Kenya airtel Kenya Airtel Kenya is the second largest operator and has 4 million customers.[37]
 Madagascar airtel Madagascar Airtel is the market leader in Madagascar with 39% market share and 2.5 million customers.[33]
 Malawi airtel Malawi Airtel Malawi is the market leader with a market share of 72%.[33]
 Niger airtel Niger Airtel Niger is the market leader with a 68% market share.[33]
 Nigeria airtel Nigeria
 Republic of the Congo airtel Congo B Airtel Congo is the market leader with a 55% market share.[33]
 Rwanda airtel Rwanda Airtel launched services in Rwanda on 30 March 2012.[38]
 Seychelles airtel Seychelles Airtel is the leading comprehensive telecommunications services providers with over 55% market share of mobile market in Seychelles.[39]
 Sierra Leone airtel Sierra Leone
 Sri Lanka airtel Sri Lanka Airtel Sri Lanka commenced operations on 12 January 2009. It had about 1.8 million mobile customers at the end of 2010.[35]
 Tanzania airtel Tanzania Airtel Tanzania is the market leader with a 38% market share.[33]
 Uganda airtel Uganda Airtel Uganda stands as the No. 2 operator with a market share of 38%.[33]
 Zambia airtel Zambia Airtel Zambia is the market leader with 69% market share.
Channel Islands :  Jersey
Airtel-Vodafone Airtel operates in the Channel Islands under the brand name Airtel–Vodafone through an agreement with Vodafone.

Jersey and Guernsey are British Crown Dependencies. They are not independent countries. Therefore, Airtel's countries of operation is considered to be 19.


Main article: airtel Africa

Airtel Africa is a subsidiary of Indian telecommunications company Airtel, that operates in 17 countries across Africa. It operates a GSM network in all countries, providing 2G or 3G depending upon the country of operation.

On 8 June 2010, Bharti Airtel completed the purchase of mobile operations in 15 African countries from Zain, a Kuwaiti operator.[40]

On 11 August 2010, Bharti Airtel announced that it would acquire Telecom Seychelles for US$62 million.[41]

Sale to Orange

On 13 January 2016,Orange and Bharti Airtel International Wednesday inked a deal that will allow Orange's acquisition of Airtel's operations in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone. This will bring down the number of countries where Airtel operates to 18. On 19 July 2016, Airtel completed the sale of both these operations to France-based Orange SA.


airtel Bangladesh Ltd. was a GSM-based cellular operator in Bangladesh. Airtel was the sixth mobile phone carrier to enter the Bangladesh market, and originally launched commercial operations under the brand name "Warid Telecom" on 10 May 2007. Warid Telecom International LLC, an Abu Dhabi–based consortium, sold a majority 70% stake in the company to India's Bharti Airtel Limited for US$300 million.[42]

Merger into Robi

On 16 November 2016, airtel Bangladesh was merged into Robi as a product brand of Robi Axiata, where Robi Axiata Limited is the Licensee of airtel Brand in Bangladesh.[43] Robi at present is a joint venture between Axiata Group of Malaysia, Bharti Airtel, of India and NTT Docomo Inc., of Japan. Axiata holds 68.7% controlling stake in the entity, Bharti holds 25% while the remaining 6.3% is held by NTT Docomo of Japan.[44]

Sri Lanka

Main article: airtel Sri Lanka

Bharti Airtel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd is a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel Limited. Bharti Airtel has been featured in Forbes Asia's Fab 50 list, rated amongst the best performing companies in the world in the BusinessWeek IT 100 list 2007, and voted as India's most innovative company in a survey by The Wall Street Journal

Airtel Lanka commenced commercial operations of services on 13 January 2009. Granted a licence in 2007 in accordance with the Sri Lanka Telecommunications Act No. 25 of 1991, it is also a registered company under the Board of Investment Sri Lanka. Under the license, the company provides digital mobile services to Sri Lanka. This is inclusive of voice telephony, voice mail, data services and GSM-based services. All of these services are provided under the airtel brand.

Channel Islands: Jersey and Guernsey

Main article: Airtel-Vodafone

On 1 May 2007, Jersey Airtel and Guernsey Airtel, both wholly owned subsidiaries of the Bharti Group, announced they would launch mobile services in the British Crown Dependency islands of Jersey and Guernsey[45][46] under the brand name Airtel-Vodafone after signing an agreement with Vodafone. Airtel-Vodafone operates a 3G network in Jersey and Guernsey.

Subscriber base

Bharti Airtel has about 303.08 million subscribers worldwide—264.58 million in India and South Asia and 50.949 million in Africa as of the end of December 2011. The numbers include mobile services subscribers in 19 countries and Indian Telemedia services and Digital services subscribers.[47]

One Network

One Network is a mobile phone network that allows Airtel customers to use the service in a number of countries at the same price as their home network. Customers can place outgoing calls at the same rate as their local network, and incoming calls are free.[48] As of 2014, the service is available in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Ghana, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia only for International roamers from Airtel Africa[49]

Acquisitions and mergers

MTN Group merger negotiations

In May 2008, it emerged that Airtel was exploring the possibility of buying the MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company with operations in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The Financial Times reported that Bharti was considering offering US$45 billion for a 100% stake in MTN, which would be the largest overseas acquisition ever by an Indian firm. However, both sides emphasised the tentative nature of the talks. The Economist magazine noted, "If anything, Bharti would be marrying up", as MTN had more subscribers, higher revenues and broader geographic coverage.[50] However, the talks fell apart as MTN Group tried to reverse the negotiations by making Bharti almost a subsidiary of the new company.[51]

In May 2009, Airtel confirmed that it was again in talks with MTN and both companies agreed to discuss the potential transaction exclusively by 31 July 2009.[52] Airtel said "Bharti Airtel Ltd is pleased to announce that it has renewed its effort for a significant partnership with MTN Group".[53] The exclusivity period was extended twice up to 30 September 2009. Talks eventually ended without agreement.[54]

A solution was proposed where the new company would be listed on 2 stock exchanges, one in South Africa and one in India. However, dual-listing of companies is not permitted by Indian law.[55]


Further information: Zain Group

In Jun 2010, Bharti struck a deal to buy Zain's mobile operations in 15 African countries, in India's second biggest overseas acquisition after Tata Steel's $13 billion buy of Corus in 2007. Bharti Airtel completed its $10.7 billion acquisition of African operations from Kuwaiti firm on 8 June 2010, making the Airtel the world's fifth largest wireless carrier by subscriber base. Airtel has reported that its revenues for the fourth quarter of 2010 grew by 53% to US$3.2 billion compared to the previous year, newly acquired Zain Africa division contributed US$911 million to the total. However, net profits dropped by 41% from US$470 million in 2009 to US$291 million 2010 due to a US$188 million increase in radio spectrum charges in India and an increase of US$106 million in debt interest.

Warid Bangladesh

Further information: Warid Bangladesh

In 2010, Warid Telecom sold a majority 70.90% stake in the company to India's Bharti Airtel Limited for US$300 million.[42] The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission approved the deal on 4 January 2010.[56] Bharti Airtel Limited took management control of the company and its board, and rebranded the company's services under its own airtel brand from 20 December 2010.[57][58] In March 2013, Warid Telecom sold its rest 30% share to Bharti Airtel's Singapore-based concern Bharti Airtel Holdings Pte Limited.[59]

Telecom Seychelles

On 11 August 2010, Bharti Airtel announced that it would acquire 100% stake in Telecom Seychelles for US$62 million taking its global presence to 19 countries. Telecom Seychelles began operations in 1998 and operates 3G, Fixed Line, ship to shore services satellite telephony, among value added services like VSAT and Gateways for International Traffic across the Seychelles under the Airtel brand. The company has over 57% share of the mobile market of Seychelles.[41] Airtel announced plans to invest US$10 million in its fixed and mobile telecoms network in the Seychelles over three years, whilst also participating in the Seychelles East Africa submarine cable (SEAS) project. The US$34 million SEAS project is aimed at improving the Seychelles' global connectivity by building a 2,000 km undersea high-speed link to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.[60]

Wireless Business Services Private Limited

On 24 May 2012, Airtel announced an agreement to acquire a 49% stake in Wireless Business Services Private Limited (WBSPL) at an investment of 9.07 billion (US$130 million).[61] WBSPL was a joint venture founded by Qualcomm, and held BWA spectrum in the telecom circles of Delhi, Haryana, Kerala and Mumbai.[62] Qualcomm had spent US$1 billion to acquire BWA spectrum in those 4 circles.[63] The deal gave Airtel a 4G presence in 18 circles.[61] On 4 July 2013, Airtel announced that it had acquired an additional 2% equity share capital (making its stake 51%)[64] in all the four BWA entities of Qualcomm, thereby making them its subsidiaries.[65] On 18 October 2013, Airtel announced that it had acquired 100 percent equity shares of WBSPL for an undisclosed sum,[66][67] making it a wholly owned subsidiary.[68][69]

Augere Wireless

Airtel purchased Augere Wireless, a company that owned 4G spectrum in the Chhattisgarh-Madhya Pradesh circle in 2015–16 for an undisclosed sum. The Economic Times estimated to Augere's spectrum to be worth 1.5 billion (US$22 million).[70]

Joint ventures and agreements


Main article: Airtel-Vodafone

On 1 May 2007, Jersey Airtel and Guernsey Airtel, both wholly owned subsidiaries of the Bharti Group, announced they would launch mobile services in the British Crown Dependency islands of Jersey and Guernsey[45][46] under the brand name Airtel-Vodafone after signing an agreement with Vodafone. Airtel-Vodafone operates a 3G network in Jersey and Guernsey.


On 16 November 2016, airtel Bangladesh was merged into Robi as a product brand of Robi, where Robi Axiata Limited is the Licensee of airtel Brand in Bangladesh.[71] Robi is a joint venture between Axiata Group holding 68.7%, Bharti Airtel holding 25%, and NTT DoCoMo Inc. holding 6.3%.[44]


AIn July 2011, Bharti signed a five-year agreement with Ericsson, who will manage and optimise Airtel's mobile networks in Africa. Ericsson will modernise and upgrade Airtel's mobile networks in Africa with the latest technology including its multi standard RBS 6000 base station. As part of the modernisation, Ericsson will also provide technology consulting, network planning & design and network deployment. Ericsson has been the managed services and network technology partner in the Asian operations.[72]


Logo used by Airtel till November 2010

On 18 November 2010, Airtel rebranded itself in India in the first phase of a global rebranding strategy. The company unveiled a new logo with 'airtel' written in lower case. Designed by London-based brand agency, The Brand Union, the new logo is the letter 'a' in lowercase, with 'airtel' written in lowercase under the logo.[73] On 23 November 2010, Airtel's Africa operations were rebranded to 'airtel'. Sri Lanka followed on 28 November 2010 and on 20 December 2010, Warid Telecom rebranded to 'airtel' in Bangladesh.


On 9 May 2009 Airtel signed a major deal with Manchester United. As a result of the deal, Airtel gets the rights to broadcast the matches played by the team to its customers.

Bharti Airtel signed a five-year deal with ESPN Star Sports to become the title sponsor of the Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament. But now the deal is terminated and Karbonn Mobiles is sponsoring Champions League Twenty20 cricket.[74]

Airtel, also signed a deal to be title sponsor the inaugural Formula One Indian Grand Prix during the 2011 season.[75]

Airtel, signed a deal to be title sponsor the I-League for 2013–14 I-League.[76]

Signature tune

The signature tune of Airtel is composed by Indian musician A. R. Rahman. The tune became hugely popular and is the world's most downloaded mobile music with over 150 million downloads. A. R. Rahman along with Anu Malik has re-used the same tune in Kannada movie titled Love.[77] A new version of the song was released on 18 November 2010, as part of the rebranding of the company.[77][78] This version too was composed by Rahman himself.[78]

Green initiative

GreenTowers P7 program

Bharti Infratel is the only telecom tower company, which has installed almost 3 MWT of solar capacity on their network, generating more than 5 million units of electricity every year. The Green Towers P7 program is scoped for 22,000 tower sites (primarily rural areas having low or no Grid Power availability) out of which 5,500 sites have already been implemented in the first year as a part of this 3-year program.[79][80][81] Once completed, the initiative will reduce diesel consumption by 66 million litres per year with a significant carbon dioxide reduction of around 150,000 MT per year. Bharti Infratel received the 2011 'Green Mobile Award ' at the GSMA Mobile World Congress at Barcelona and was also awarded the 2010 innovative infrastructure company of the year award at the CNBC Infrastructure Awards for this groundbreaking initiative. Bharti remains the first company in the world to introduce the practice of sharing of passive infrastructure by collaborating with their competition to share mobile towers and to reduce the collective carbon footprint of the industry. This has become a subject of case studies in institutions including the Harvard Business School.

Energy conservation

The company has installed solar hot water generator at its main campus in Gurgaon for fulfilling the hot water requirement in the cafeteria. Majority of its facilities across NCR region are now equipped with LES (lighting energy savers) which have reduced energy consumption in the lighting system to the tune of 10–25%. Variable frequency drives installed in the air handling unit at its campus have helped in enhancing the efficiency of cooling system by 10%. These measures have resulted in a total saving of 850,000 units of electricity per year.

Airtel has embarked upon technology related initiatives like virtualisation of servers that has helped it release over 500 CPUs. Also the drive of sending e-bills to the post-paid customers is helping save 12,840 trees annually. Within its campus the 'Secure Print Solution'—an automated queue management-based secured printing solution has led to an annualised saving of about 8 metric tonnes of paper.


Net neutrality debate

For more details on this topic, see Net neutrality in India.

In February 2014, Gopal Vittal, CEO of Airtel's India operations, said that companies offering free messaging apps like Skype, Line and Whatsapp should be regulated similar to telecom operators.[82] In August 2014, TRAI rejected a proposal from telecom companies to make messaging application firms share part of their revenue with the carriers or the government.[83] In November 2014, TRAI began investigating if Airtel was implementing preferential access by offering special Internet packs which allowed WhatsApp and Facebook data at rates which were lower than its standard data rates.[84] The statements of Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO of Singtel and also shareholder (32.15%) of Bharti Airtel share similar statements about the Anti-Net Neutrality position.

In December 2014, Airtel changed its service terms for 2G and 3G data packs so that VoIP data was excluded from the set amount of free data. A standard data charge of 4 paise (0.059¢ US) per 10 KB for 3G service and 10 paise (0.15¢ US) per 10 KB (more than 10,000 (US$150) for 1GB) for 2G service was levied on VoIP data.[85] A few days later Airtel announced a separated internet pack for VoIP apps, it offered 75 MB for 75 (US$1.10) with a validity of 28 days.[86] The TRAI chief Rahul Khullar said that Airtel cannot be held responsible for violating net neutrality because India has no regulation that demands net neutrality.[87] Airtel's move faced criticism on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.[88] Later on 29 December 2014, Airtel announced that it would not be implementing planned changes, pointing out that there were reports that TRAI would be soon releasing a consultation paper on the issue.[89]

In April 2015, Airtel announced the "Airtel Zero" scheme. Under the scheme, app firms will sign a contract and Airtel will provide the apps for free to its customers.[90] The reports of Flipkart, an e-commerce firm, joining the "Airtel Zero" scheme drew negative response. People began to give the one-star rating to its app on Google Play.[91][92] Following the protest Flipkart decided to pull out of Airtel Zero. The e-commerce giant confirmed the news in an official statement, saying, "We will be walking away from the ongoing discussions with Airtel for their platform Airtel Zero.[93]

In October 2016, India's telecom regulator TRAI recommended imposing a combined penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on three mobile network operators — Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular — for denying interconnection to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio), the latest entrant into India’s telecom service.[94]

User privacy

In June 2015, a code used by the company was accused of compromising subscribers privacy.[95][96][97][98][99]

See also


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