Airtel seeks TRAI nod to offer exclusive video content
New Delhi: Bharti Airtel has sought Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) permission to offer video content through a private network for exclusive customers. The telecom major fears that the service may violate any possible net-neutrality row.
Airtel has been approached by one of the global content providers to offer video content on exclusive basis over the closed electronic communications network (CECN) in agreement with the existing rules.
"We wish to bring to your kind attention that we have been approached by one of the big global content providers who wishes to offer their video content on exclusive basis over the closed electronics communications network (CECN) of Airtel...Such exclusive content would be offered in India to Airtel's customers only," the company said in a letter to TRAI Secretary Sudhir Gupta.
It added the exclusive content will be provided to only Airtels customers in India.
Airtel and social media giant Facebook had been in midst of net-neutrality debate in India. The debate started in India with Airtel deciding to charge differently for internet based calls. It further flared after Airtel launched a zero rating platform Airtel Zero.
The content on Airtel Zero could be accessed by consumers without incurring data charges but the companies that opted to place their content or application on this platform had to bear the expenses.
TRAI in February barred such offerings and ruled that telecom companies cannot charge different rates for accessing content over internet. However, the regulator exempted content on CECN (like intranet) from the rules.
CECN like platform is not open like internet and is accessible to only closed group of people. Therefore, Airtel has said that the new proposal will be restricted to customers over its network.
"Prior to arriving at any business decision on such an arrangement, we request the Honble Authority to kindly advise us if we can go ahead with it," Gandhi said.
When contacted, Airtel neither commented on it nor provided any details regarding the development.