Telecom consumers watch out, cellular service providers seem set to hike tariffs, but gradually, so that if you are on high-usage low-cost voice plans, you may miss it entirely.
Operators are planning a marginal hike in voice tariff, but data cost, which had gone up substantially in recent times, will be brought down as more and more people adopt data-high usage plans. This is the strategy of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, according to senior executives HT spoke in these companies.
Others such as Reliance Com­munications, Tata Teleservices, Aircel, Sistema and Uninor are leart to be mulling a marginal increase of 8.8 paise to 13 paise per minute for voice and data.
The government estimates the impact of the recent spectrum auction on telecom companies at 1.3 paise per minute.
“There will be an increase in telecom tariff, but will be calibrated. Operators cannot risk losing consumers and minutes of usage with a sudden hike in tariff,” said Romal Shetty, head telecom practice at consultancy firm KPMG.
Senior executives of various telecom companies, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it would be difficult to change the headline tariff for at least one year, across the entire tariff plans. Headline tariff is like maximum retail price of a product. Discounted tariff plans are for a limited period and offer different schemes—like voice for 1 paise per three seconds and 10 paise for one gigabyte of data download.
“For at least next 10-12 months, tariffs will not rise due to high spectrum costs in the recent auction, but will be due to external factors such as inflation,” said Rajan Mathews, director general, of an industry body Cellular Operators Association of India.
“There cannot be any hike in the tariff, the number players and the competition will ensure, prices are affordable,” said Rakesh Garg, secretary, communications ministry.