Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have hiked data charges for their postpaid users by around 20% in Delhi NCR, and other regions in India. This hike comes two months after the two telecom operators, along with Vodafone, had laid down an almost 47% charge hike in 2G and 3G data plans for their prepaid users across various regions.
Vodafone has not yet hiked its data plan charges, and continues to provide 1GB of 3G data to postpaid users at Rs. 250. Both Airtel and Idea Cellular have increased their 1GB 3G data plans to Rs. 300. According to a PTI report, the data price hike by Airtel has been effected in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (East and West), Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan. Idea Cellular have raised its prices in Delhi, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh-West.
The PTI report also quotes an Airtel spokesperson as stating that the price hike was inflicted about two months ago, and will be applicable only to new postpaid customers. Idea Cellular has reportedly not commented on the hike, yet. The previous price hike for prepaid users, that make up for around 90% of all data consumers across the nation, came in wake of the telecom operators acquiring airwave distribution rights for a reported sum of Rs. 1.1 lac crores.
Much has been spoken about the profitability of the telecom business in the country, with the latest net neutrality and call drops issues. Telecom operators in India raised a cry on dwindling profits owing to OTA (over-the-air) calling and messaging services, and claimed mandatory specialised pricing for different data-based services. Such claims lead to the now-villainous nature of the net neutrality debacle in India. Although a final decision from the Central Government is pending as yet, widespread protests and emails sent by citizens regarding this issue hopes to safeguard India’s internet freedom. (which, incidentally, faced a blip with the sudden ban on pornographic websites by the Government)
Questions on the massive rise in the rate of call drops were also answered by the telecom chiefs, at a recent press conference, where the general consensus was to urge the Government in extending more support towards the operators, and declaring telecommunications as an ‘essential service’, like electricity supply. It remains to be seen how this price hike affects users, and whether the raised pricing is being seen as the only feasible way to sustain profitability by telecom operators.