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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fwd: Petition against Airtel Fair Usage Policy

Hi All,

As some of you may know, Airtel is introducing / has introduced a new policy called the "Fair Usage Policy"  (details are sketchy) that seeks to curb the amount you download using 'unlimited' internet plans.  What they are trying to get away with is saying that people are using too much of the internet and thus they need to curb your downloads / speeds, rather than upgrade their own infrastructure and equipment.

In an nutshell, what it means is that if you have an unlimited plan that is, say, 512kbps in speed,  after a certain cap they will halve your speed to 256kbps for the rest of the month, while charging you the same amount that they have been charging you till now for 512kbps for the whole month!!!  Essentially they are giving you less (up to 45% less) service but for the same price!!!  And the cap can be reached in as quick as 5-6 days if you are a heavy user.

While you may feel that this only affects 'heavy downloaders,' it's an important issue for all to consider as it sets a very dangerous precedent for telecom companies to start implementing all sorts of policies.  The day may not be very far (in fact many internet activists around the world say it's quite near) where the ISPs will control not only your speeds and download abilities, but will control what information you can access, thereby completely destroying what made the internet what it is today - a level playing field.  This is popularly known as the issue of net neutrality, which gained considerable importance in the 2008 U.S. Presidential elections (which hopefully and thankfully ended with the selection of a candidate who is for net neutrality and against allowing giant telecom companies railroad consumers in order for profit).  And if you think 'downloading' is important only for people downloading pirated movies, music etc. I urge you to read this page, which describes in brief the variety of legitimate applications that are out there which would be significantly stunted with the implementation of these policies.  If you are not on Airtel, don't worry - If Airtel implements this policy, your ISP will follow (soon), which is why this petition is open to all.

The internet today is the single most important tool for all the essentials of modern life - communication, education, business, politics etc. etc., and I urge you to not take this matter lightly. 

A few of us have started an online petition in protest, which we will be sending to Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman & Managing Director, Bharti Airtel Ltd. after we obtain a significant number of signatures.  You can find the petition here.  Please do read the petition as well as the other information that is on the site, make up your own mind, and sign it if you agree with it.

Please do use a valid e-mail address (which will be kept confidential) as you will need to confirm your signature for it to be counted.  After signing you will get an e-mail, which is highly likely to be wrongly sent to your SPAM folder.  Please check there if it doesn't come in your inbox, and click on the link therein to confirm your signature.

We would appreciate it if you can (BCC) forward this e-mail to others who care about the future of the Internet in India.

Our thanks in advance.

Supporters of net neutrality in India -