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Airtel (Un)Fair Usage Policy

Airtel has recently introduced Fair Usage Policy(FUP) to restrict the customers of unlimited plans from using excessive bandwidth and inconveniencing the rest of the customers.

What is the FUP? FUP is a policy devised by Airtel to penalise customers using excessive bandwidth so that the other customers are not constrained to using lesser bandwidth. This happens as certain customers make high use of available chunk of bandwidth thus making lesser available for the other customers to use. This is true because ISP's ration the bandwidth assuming that only a certain percentage of the users will be using the Internet at any given time and that they will only make use of a certain percentage of the allocated bandwidth over the given period of time. Thus, the idea of Airtel to introduce FUP to cap the bandwidth of those users making excessive use of given bandwidth.

Where do I get the details of the FUP? To check the original details, visit, navigate to "Internet and Broadband" -> Tariffs -> "Select your Circle" -> Check your unlimited plan. As can be seen there, Airtel cuts the available bandwidth to 50% of the normal bandwidth of the users who cross the mentioned bandwidth limit. This cut is effective from the time of crossing the limit to the end of the billing cycle.

How does FUP affect me? As you can see here, this leads to a 30-45% deficiency in available bandwidth for the users of unlimited plans. But, at the same rate as before. And the rates are completely at par with the rates of other competitive ISP's. Thus, there is no justifiable reason for such a step.

How can I voice my opinion against it? You can voice your opinions against/for this move in various ways. Some of them are mentioned below:

  1. Post your comments on you

  2. Blog about this issue

  3. Raise the awareness of this policy on popular websites like facebook, digg, twitter, etc.

  4. Spread the word amongst your friends and relatives who use Airtel

I am not using Airtel. Why should I be concerned? Though this issue is contained only to Airtel unlimited plans as of now, it sets a dangerous precedent for other ISP's to follow. Successful implementation of this policy may inspire other ISP's to follow suit and provide dis-service to their customers, who are already facing slow connection speeds or grossly low download limits on fat pipes.

Aren't Airtel doing the right thing by penalising people who inconvenience the others? NO! Airtel is not doing the right thing. By this move they are trying to hide the deficiency in their infrastructure. This happens so because they set-up the infrastructure considering that only a certain percentage of users will be active at the given time period. If there are more, everyone will suffer lower speeds. This scenario is very much like what is known as overselling in web hosting scenario. At no given point of time does their infrastructure hold if nearly 100% of the users make use of the resources concurrently. If Airtel, considers that the infrastructure does not support the current load of users, they could have introduced this policy with rate cuts, so the customers are reimbursed for the deficiency in service from the ISP's end. This could also be seen as cheating the customers as they do not provide quality service as customers are not able to make full use of advertised bandwidth. All said and done, Airtel has to be credited for openly mentioning this policy on their websites, unlike some other ISP's who hide it in small letters within myriad terms and conditions.

On the whole, this is a wrong move on the part of Airtel, as they are not only likely to loose customers but also the faith of the customers if they pull off this gimmick. Plus the bad publicity on various websites and blogs, which are freely viewable and visible on Internet for a long time to come. A case to this point is the activity on Deep's blog post regarding SBI Credit Cards till date.

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