Your telephone bills may rise from next month, as India’s top two telecom operators, Airtel and Vodafone, have stealthily hiked tariffs on some plans. These two companies have a combined 52% share of the Indian market.
For example, Airtel has raised tariffs on some of its plans from 45 paise to 50 paise per call. Then, its 28-day mobile internet pack will now be valid for only 21 days, effectively increasing the price for consumers. Similarly, Vodafone has also tweaked some of its plans to increase tariffs.
Subscribers should check with these companies to see if their tariff plans have been increased.
This could trigger a price hike across the board by other telecom companies. HT learns that India’s third largest telco, Idea Cellular, as well as smaller players like Aircel and Uninor have discussed the impact of a tariff hike on customer retention with a few retailers, but have not taken any decision on hiking tariffs yet.
In an emailed response to HT, Airtel, India’s top telco by subscribers and revenues, said: “There is no change in headline tariffs. Reduction of discounts and promotional offers is a part of our ongoing strategy.”
Vodafone, India’s second-largest telco, told HT: "There is absolutely no change in our base tariffs. Promotion packs change from time to time as part of continuously refreshing the promotion pack portfolio.”
A spokesperson for Idea Cellular said the company has not hiked tariffs anywhere in the country. However, he added, if competitors hike tariffs, the company may follow suit.
Uninor too, in an emailed response to HT said: “Uninor has not increased tariffs on any of its products and made only minor changes on validity on a few, following TRAI norms...."
Regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is not amused. “We have not received any intimation of any change in tariff plans, which is necessary as per law," it said.
Senior executives of leading telecom operators, however, claimed, it was not necessary to inform TRAI about changes in promotional plans.
A top TRAI official warned: "If we see a concerted effort on the part of operators to change tariffs, we can intervene…"