According to media reports, Airtel has written to TRAI seeking approval to offer exclusive video content over a private network for its users in India.
TRAI had, in February, passed a new resolution barring telecom operators from offering content at differential pricing models. Airtel’s letter to TRAI could be a way to test this ruling. Analysts have noted that telecom operators might try to take advantage of a loophole in the regulation that might allow operators to offer exclusive content on private networks, as these are not under the purview of the TRAI ruling on differential pricing. The fear is that operators might start creating their own content banks and making these available to their subscribers exclusively.
Media reports suggest that Airtel wrote to TRAI on April 25 seeking clarity on this issue after being approached by "one of the big global content providers”.
"Prior to arriving at any business decision on such an arrangement, we request the honourable authority to kindly advise us if we can go ahead with it. We further submit that while such an arrangement with the global content provider over CECN along with its exclusive offerings to our customers would be compliant to the regulations, it may well be viewed by some stakeholders in violation of principles of net neutrality," the letter from Airtel to TRAI reads.
After facing backlash for Airtel Zero and seeing the storm caused in the country over net neutrality over the past few months, Airtel seems to be taking the cautious route.