Mo­bile phone calls to get ex­pen­sive

Consumer Voice - - In The News -

Voice tar­iffs will go up as debt-laden tele­com oper­a­tors start re­vis­ing rates to fac­tor in higher costs and in­creased ex­penses. Air­tel, the coun­try’s largest mo­bile op­er­a­tor, has said it will con­tinue to cut dis­counted min­utes and raise its voice and data tar­iffs to meet ris­ing costs and im­prove rev­enues. Re­liance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions (RCom) has al­ready in­creased tar­iffs, while Voda­fone and Idea are ex­pected to fol­low suit.

RCOM has in­creased the head­line tar­iffs (the of­fi­cial rates filed with reg­u­la­tor) by 7 per cent, while cut­ting ben­e­fits in dis­counted tar­iff plans by up to 20 per cent.

In­dus­try an­a­lysts point out that there is a gap of nearly 30 per cent–40 per cent be­tween the head­line tar­iffs and the ac­tual mar­ket rates on cer­tain pack­ages. Spec­trum auc­tions and the high prices paid by top tel­cos are among the main rea­sons be­hind the change in tar­iff strat­egy. Ear­lier this year, Voda­fone’s In­dia MD & CEO Marten Pi­eters stated his agree­ment that the higher spec­trum charges were adding to pres­sure. “The auc­tion raised over Rs 61,000 crore for the govern­ment, but much of this will end up as debt on the bal­ance sheets of oper­a­tors. Such high in­dus­try in­debt­ed­ness will hurt oper­a­tors' abil­ity to in­vest in the roll­out of new tech­nolo­gies and in­vari­ably re­sult in higher prices and re­duced ser­vice lev­els for con­sumers,” he said.

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