Questions for the COAI and Indian telecom CEO's. #sabkequestions

Today's the last day for filing your submissions with the TRAI on its Consultation paper for Internet applications and services.

The Cellular Operators Association of India, and the Telecom industry CEOs, who pushed for this consultation, are hosting a press conference today in Delhi at Hotel Lalit at 11.30 AM, probably announcing 'Sabka Internet', for which they have polled Indian mobile users in a disingenuous manner (more on that here).

Here are some questions that we would ask the telecom companies, had we been there.

  1. Why have none of the telecom operators launched their own VoIP services so far, given that they had a competitive advantage and can terminate VoIP calls on landline and mobile networks?

  2. While the TRAI has said that price discrimination violates net neutrality, can you explain how Zero rating, which leads to price discrimination between access to Internet services, does not violate Net Neutrality?

  3. Free access is likely to have greater usage than paid access. Won't that have a negative impact on paid access, given limitation of spectrum? How will zero rating help reducing congestion?

  4. If the idea behind Zero rating is to bring people online, then why isn't it just an introductory offer, limited only to first time customers for a limited period of time?

  5. Why should India not ban Zero rating?

  6. Why do Telecom CEOs believe that paid prioritization of access to Internet services should be allowed in India?

  7. Given that there is no cannibalization of voice traffic by VoIP, why are telecom operators seeking protection from the government?

  8. How is zero rating not reducing consumer choice, by offering potentially just a few hundred or thousand sites, versus access to the entire Internet?

  9. How will they prevent VAS-like fraud and corruption in telecom companies once they have vendor relationships with Internet companies?

  10. How will licensing of Whatsapp, Viber etc help reduce the regulatory burden on telecom companies? Why aren't they seeking the liberalization of telecom, instead of bringing the Internet companies down to their level?

  11. Internet companies already pay for hosting and bandwidth. Isn't charging Internet companies so that consumers can access their services adding a double charge on Internet companies?

  12. As access service providers, do they believe consumers are an audience that Internet companies access via their pipe, or do they believe that consumers access Internet services via their pipe?

  13. Can you explain how there is adequate competition in the telecom sector, given that Airtel, Idea and Vodafone have 64% of active users, have 3G interconnection agreements and a joint venture tower company. How are they competing?

  14. Is Airtel Zero committed to complete transparency in terms of how companies are selected and what rates are decided?

  15. Why haven’t ala carte data charges (base rate data charges) come down in the last 15 years?

  16. Despite an apparently competitive market, why are all data packs priced so similarly across telecoms?

  17. In November, Airtel and other operators requested the government to drastically bring down the USOF levy that they pay, by arguing that they were already doing a good job of providing rural connectivity. How then are they now arguing that they must have a right to charge a levy from Internet companies in order to fund rural connectivity? (source: Economic Times)

  18. Name some of the 150 startups that have expressed an interest in Airtel Zero. How many have signed up and will that list be made public?

  19. What rates are Internet companies being charged for Airtel Zero? Will these rates be kept fixed, or will they be revised every year? How do they compare with what customers pay?

  20. Is Airtel trying to offset its losses in Africa by trying to monetize Internet access better by charging Internet companies?

  21. Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said in February that Airtel doesn't require any additional investment in CapEx for enabling data services. Where is the need for infrastructure investment required for providing data services then?

  22. Why is Uninor supporting Zero rating in India, when the Norwegian telecom regulator banned Zero rating in their country in November 2014? Uninor is majority owned by the Norwegian government.

  23. Has Google been in talks with any of the telecom operators for its own Zero rating platform? Do telecom operators see that as a threat to their own Zero rating plans?

  24. Since Facebook says that is open to all telecom operators, why haven't any of the COAI members signed up for it? What is their view on

  25. If Airtel supports Net Neutrality, and had said in its pledge that they've never done fast lanes, how is it that their broadband "Games on Demand" service automatically upgraded to 2mbps, which is a fast lane?

  26. Measurement Lab (M-Lab) reported in 2012 that Airtel and other ISPs had been throttling BitTorrent traffic in India for years (read here). Can Indian telecom companies prove that they aren't still throttling traffic?

By the Coalition team. Got the idea for the post from this Reddit thread.