Airtel chairman wants YouTube to pay for mobile bandwidth

Airtel chairman wants YouTube to pay for mobile bandwidth

Summary: Airtel boss wants to "tax" content providers for using Airtel's bandwidth.


Streaming videos on smartphones is one of the popular activity on the devices. According to Google, YouTube mobile gets 600 Million hits a day (via YouTube as of March 21), and that's a significant number. While researching for my previous story on the demand for cheaper smartphones in India, I stumbled across an intriguing quote by Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal. Talking about mobile data tariff, Mittal says content providers like YouTube use bandwidth provided by carriers like Airtel and the customers end up paying all the price. (Some numbers suggest YouTube consumes almost 22% of the world's mobile bandwidth.)

Drawing a parallel to physical highways, Mittal says mobile carriers are data highways and content providers should pay a tax to use the service. He explained customers blame the mobile carrier for their high bills and data prices when it necessarily them to blame since there are limited resources. Mittal has proposed a solution for this; he wants content providers to pay carriers so the carriers can, in turn, reduce the data prices for the customers. Joji Thomas Philip writing for The Economic Times quotes Sunil Mittal saying, "We've become the bad gatekeepers. When somebody watches too many YouTube videos on mobile phone and then has a big bill, he curses the telecom operators. But YouTube is consuming a massive amount of resources on our network. Somebody's got to pay for that. Operators are under extreme pressures. If we are going to build the highways, there has to be a tax on the highways. I'm in favor of the customer feeling that the network providers are doing a great service. I don't want him to curse me. We are charging him to make our business viable."

Compared to the US (250MB fr $15 on AT&T), mobile data prices in India are very cheap. I enjoyed 500MB data for approximately $4 on Airtel. If Mittal's advice is in fact taken, AT&T, for example, may be able to offer better tariff plans and the customer does benefit in the end.

Noble thought sir.

Topics: Mobility, Social Enterprise

Manan Kakkar

About Manan Kakkar

Telecommunication engineer with a keen interest in end-user technology and a News junkie, I share my thoughts while preparing for my Master's in Information Management.

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  • Counter proposal

    Google blocks Airtel users.
  • Yep, likewise cable companies charging the studios, producers...

    got it.
    Ram U
  • Bad analogy

    I think that the correct analogy is this:
    You Tube is the store, Airtel is the highway, and the end user is the car. The driver pays the tolls based on usage. Airtel is just looking for another revenue source with deeper pockets.
  • In search of the free lunch

    I just visited YouTube to see who is paying for it today, and the big banner ad was for Absolut Vodka. It costs a lot of money to run YouTube: the servers cost money, the electricity costs money, the buildings cost money, the people who keep it all running cost money.

    That's what the advertisers are paying for now. Along comes this guy, who thinks that drinkers of Absolut Vodka should also pay the bandwidth bills for the people who watch the videos.

    A lot of people like YouTube. The people who watch the videos are indeed the ones who ought to be paying for the bandwidth to watch it. If YouTube had to charge people to post videos, so they could send money to this guy, 99% of the videos on YouTube wouldn't be there. And the ones that were there would all be ads of some kind, if not for products than for politicians. All the cute doggies and kitties and hamsters would be gone.

    So that's what this guy is about. He's about ridding YouTube of puppies and kittens and hamsters. He is an evil man.
    Robert Hahn
  • Re: Airtel chairman wants YouTube to pay for mobile bandwidth

    Rather than tax the shopkeeper on the road-side for cars travelling on the road, Mr. Mittal should stop yapping and try to invest in building network capacity and network quality of service. AirTel's so-called high bandwidth plans are a joke, when one compares it with their actual inter-national/continental capacity. It appears that most of AirTel's capacity exists only on paper. What's the point of providing 100Mbps in the last mile when you lack the inter-connect capacity to support even 1/20th that bandwidth?
  • Dumb idea......

    The customer is ALREADY PAYING for that connection. Any forced payments by any media sites, will only be passed onto the customer, adding to an already overcharged poor connection.
    linux for me