There's good news for mobile Internet users.
India's top three telecom operators — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular — have slashed rates for mobile Internet by more than 80% for 2G subscribers during the week. The new tariff, offered under pay-as-you-use schemes, are aimed at subscribers who have very low usages and generally do not use data services.
"These tariff schemes will attract new customers who are currently not using mobile Internet," said BK Syngal, former chairman and MD, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL).
Though 3G services, which allow high-speed data download are available in India, over 90% of subscribers still use 2G.
Vodafone, which was the first to cut rates, on Tuesday announced a reduction in data access rates from 10paise/10kb to 2paise/10kb. The new rates will, however, be applicable only in Karnataka, UP (West), Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It will be implemented nationally later.
Idea Cellular also announced data access offer at 2 paise/10kb in eight circles on Thursday. However, prepaid subscribers will have to buy a voucher of up to R10 valid for 90 days. The new offer will be available in Tamil Nadu and Chennai, Karnataka, Kolkata, West Bengal, Assam, North East, Bihar, and Orissa from July 1.
Bharti Airtel has also reduced rates to 1 paise/10 kb for data download in some circles.
"There is a potential concern that reductions in 2G data prices increases the price differential with 3G, thereby making 3G look less attractive," said Mohammad Chowdhury, leader telecom, PwC India. "However, we think this will be marginal and the greater impact here will be on encouraging more data usage all-around."