How does the FUP affect me?

FIRSTLY, here are some figures to show you how it could affect you.

Here is a spreadsheet which shows how the Airtel Fair Usage Policy affect the services provided by the company to the end user.

SECONDLY, you may say to yourself (and one can only conjecture that whosoever framed this policy thought along these lines): “Who cares? This would only affect people who are downloading pirated movies, music and software. It won’t affect me.” Well, you would be wrong. The following are some legitimate uses of bandwidth-heavy internet applications, which even if you don’t use today, will definitely want to use tomorrow. Unfortunately, if the FUP is allowed to continue, you may not have the option of meaningfully using it.

Video conferencing/telecommunication – Here are a few possible uses of this technology:

  • Video chat for families that are spread over the globe to keep in touch with each other.
  • Companies could conduct job interviews anywhere in the country. So sitting in Delhi, you could interview for a job in Bangalore, without having to fly/train it there.
  • Companies and businesses could use it for conference calls between their different branches spread across the word.
  • It is also quintessential for students who are enrolled in e-learning courses to virtually ‘sit’ in a classroom.
  • Video streaming is increasingly being used as an educational tool enabling a person sitting in any remote corner of this country to get the latest cutting-edge education. In fact our very own IITs and IIMs offer such educational videos which require a very high speed unlimited internet connection. In addition, it also allows the common Indian student to enroll in online education courses from universities and institutions around the world. For example, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is undoubtedly one of the finest and most renowned educational institutions worldwide, offers such videos and programs through its “MIT Open Courseware” website. One can appreciate the value in our country of a student sitting in a village being able to read lecture notes and watch videos of actual MIT courses.

    Distribution of legitimate software - You would be well aware of the cost advantages of using the internet as a distribution medium by companies making software. Progressively, more and more companies will sell their software products at a cheaper rate (or even free!) but only so long as the end-users have the ability to download large installation files without the apprehension of being penalized for doing so. For example, the emergence of Linux as a formidable Operating System would never have happened if it was not for the collaboration of tens of thousands of users, downloading huge distribution files every week, which was possible only because of an “unlimited Internet.”

    Legal distribution of movies, music etc. – You would be well aware of the tremendous potential of the Internet as a marketplace for both independent artists offering their art for free, as well as for big studios who have realized that the internet has immense potential as a marketplace. The success of iTunes, Netflix, and other online media services, only serve as a reminder that online distribution is the future of the media business.

    Work from home – The Internet today enables millions of people to work from home by connecting to and collaborating with associates and clients all around the globe. The work from home formula is so successful that not only are people capable of earning livelihoods working solely from home, but many multi-national companies are encouraging their employees to work from home as it not only makes them happier, more productive, well-rounded employees, but also saves the companies millions of dollars every year.

    Connecting businesses – The Internet today enables businesses abroad to productively collaborate with businesses in India. In fact, without the Internet, the BPO, KPO, LPO etc. boom would never have reached our shores. Companies and firms abroad cannot have a meaningful commercial interaction with India in terms of back office work, without the presence of unfettered high-speed broadband internet.

    VOIP – Voice Over Internet Protocol, simply put, is an alternative to traditional voice communication technology. The average internet user would recognize this as “Skype.” As you are well aware, VOIP is emerging as a technology in the mainstream with a tremendous potential to revolutionize the telephone industry. Curbing download/upload speeds virtually renders this technology useless. Read more about VOIP here.

    THIRDLY, even if you are not an Airtel user, the very existence of the FUP serves as a dangerous precedent for other ISPs to follow suit.  It also gives leeway for ISPs to start controlling how end-users use the internet.  Today it is putting “caps” on unlimited internet plans.  Tomorrow, it would be restricting which sites you can view and which you cannot.