Bharti Airtel has begun offering data services free of charge via a new platform.
The Airtel Zero platform provides subsidised access to certain apps – in full or in part - and is aimed at allowing content providers and developers to encourage their use. Subsidising the data charges could attract new users as well as reinvigorating the interest of lapsed users.
Srini Gopalan, director of Consumer Business at Bharti Airtel, said: “We are excited to launch Airtel Zero as an open and non-discriminatory marketing platform for all developers in India – irrespective of the size of their business.”
He added that the platform would facilitate digital inclusion – which is being strongly pushed by the country’s government – as well as supporting the Make in India initiative. “This is not a walled garden; there’s no slow lane or fast lane. No bandwidth is allocated whether an app is on Airtel Zero or not and there is no impact on performance of the app,” he stated.
In a low-income market, zero-rating apps can allow new services to spread faster than they otherwise might. The platform is also a boon for smaller developers who are keen to establish their apps, with Airtel claiming that it can deliver similar results to traditional digital marketing at around one third of the cost.
Developers who wish to sign up to the platform simply need to register with Airtel Zero. Their apps will then be promoted by the operator, and consumers will be able to download them for free. There is currently no confirmation of whether the platform will launch outside of India.