Airtel Zero: The Pandora's Box



Case Code : CLBS156
Period : 2015-2016
Publication date : 2017
Teaching Note :Available
Subject :Business Strategy
Case Length : 05 Pages
Countries : India
Industry : Telecommunication Industry
Organization : Bharti Airtel Limited (Airtel)


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Abstract: ICMR India ICMR India ICMR India ICMR India RSS Feed

The case discusses the events post the launch of ‘Airtel Zero’ by India-based telecommunication company Bharti Airtel Limited (Airtel) on April 06, 2015. ‘Airtel Zero’ was launched as an open platform and as the ‘zero’ in the name implied that the platform would not charge for the data usage by its users to avail a few e-commerce websites, chat applications, and gaming portals. In spite of Airtel Zero’s claimed benefits, it unfurled unexpected repercussions in the digital world on the grounds that it was violating the principles of net neutrality. The case particularly highlights the concerns raised by stakeholders like consumers, e-commerce companies, media and the country’s telecom regulator. The case also discusses the counter argument raised by the senior management of Airtel which opened a whole new debate on the rationality of ‘net neutrality’.


Analyze the influence of different stakeholders (customers, employees, partners, shareholders, government, and society) on the strategic decisions of the company.
Understand that when value is not created for all the different stakeholders then the business strategy is not sustainable.


On April 06, 2015, India-based leading telecommunication company Bharti Airtel Limited (Airtel), announced the launch of an open platform - ‘Airtel Zero’. As the name implied the platform would allow free access to certain internet services like e-commerce, chat applications, and gaming portals. Srini Gopalan, Director, Consumer Business, Airtel drew a parallel between Airtel Zero’s business model and toll-free services. He said Airtel would collect the charges for the data usage of its customers from the app service providers. Airtel was expected to launch at least 100 apps on the platform by collaborating with several start-ups along with large e-commerce companies in the country.

Earlier, in February 2015, online social networking service, Facebook, and India-based internet and telecom company Reliance Communications, had also launched a similar offering called, which gave affordable access to select subscribed internet services. ...

Key words:
Net Neutrality,Free Internet,Differential Pricing,OTT services,Stakeholder,Airtel Zero,Airtel,Digital world

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