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Re: Petition against Airtel "Fair Usage" Policy in India
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 02:30:33 -0500
Begin forwarded message:
From: Rahul Tongia <tongia () cmu edu>
Date: March 1, 2009 1:04:17 PM EST
To: dave () farber net
Cc: ip <ip () v2 listbox com>, Rahul Tongia <tongia () cmu edu>
Subject: Re: [IP] Petition against Airtel "Fair Usage" Policy in India
Reply-To: tongia () cmu edu
I am writing from Bangalore...so I can speak from experience about DSL
and more in India.
India has some of the cheapest DSL available, with 2 catches. All of
the cheap plans are limited usage, sometimes as little as 1 or 5 GB
(or less!) per month. IMHO, this is a good thing, allowing $2/month
DSL for the masses (in a few cases, and $4-5 in most urban locations)
Second, the advertised speeds are rarely achieved. Part of this
depends on where the other end of the path is (domestic vs.
international). Within India, the backbones are reasonable, at least
compared to the very $$$$ international bandwidth.
To give a sense of how much plans vary BY USAGE, unlimited plans cost
3-5 times limited plans. The Airtel plan reduces by half the plan
speed after crossing 40 GB of usage in the month. That's reasonably
generous, considering most people I know have plans with some 1 or 5
GB caps, after which they keep their speed but pay 2 cents or so per
MB! In comparison, free usage but at half the speed is quite
Is this an ideal world? No. Speeds should be faster, usage unlimited.
But if business models dictate some compromises, the airtel cap seems
reasonable. There is no discrimination by usage/port/application, so
any claims this violates net neutrality is bizarre.
In a land where there are power cuts daily, I am not sure what
fraction of users would be impacted by 40 GB semi-caps (literally,
half speed). My bet is this is going to be less than 1% of users, or
Let's do some math. At 512 kbps rated speed (and note, Airtel often
does better than the main competitor, the ex-incumbent, govt. co.
BSNL, when it comes to real speeds compared to advertised speeds), 1.3
GB per day of usage is (ignoring overhead) just under 6 hours of full
throttle downloading @512 kbps per day. Given practical speeds are
sometimes slower, we're talking many hours of continuous "full-usage"
per day. Other than people with specific needs/applications, this just
doesn't seem like an issue.
Rahul Tongia, Ph.D.
Senior Systems Scientist
Program in Computation, Organizations, and Society (COS)
School of Computer Science (ISR) /
Dept. of Engineering & Public Policy
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA
email: tongia () cmu edu
David Farber wrote:
Begin forwarded message:
*From: *David Ian Hopper <imhopper () gmail com <mailto:imhopper () gmail com
*Date: *February 28, 2009 9:36:45 PM EST
*To: *dave () farber net <mailto:dave () farber net>
*Subject: **Petition against Airtel "Fair Usage" Policy in India*
For IP. Caps come to India. This sounds a lot like Comcast's extra
charges. Here, though, most Internet plans have a limited download
cap. The writer is up in arms because it would take the described
Unlimited 512K plan -- blazing fast, yes -- and throttle it down to
256K if you exceed some unspecified limit. Calling this a reference
to Net Neutrality could be pandering, or some confusion on the part
of the writers. That said, the writers have a point. For a country
noted for its tech companies, Internet infrastructure is, as they
say here, "very less."
According to the following post, though, the slow-down policy has
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: *admin () broadbandforum in <mailto:admin () broadbandforum in>* <admin () broadbandforum in
<mailto:admin () broadbandforum in>>
Date: Sun, Mar 1, 2009 at 3:21 AM
Subject: Petition against Airtel Fair Usage Policy
To: imhopper () gmail com <mailto:imhopper () gmail com>
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
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