Mobile call charges hiked up to 30 pc
New Delhi/ Mumbai, Jan 23, 2013, DHNS :Mobile call rates were increased up to 30 per cent on Wednesday with some of the private telecom operators reducing promotional offers and hiking the rates of special tariff vouchers.
Though the operators claimed no change in the headline tariff, sources in the industry said the withdrawal of promotional offers automatically translated into higher call rates.
Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have withdrawn their promotional offers. The price of pre-paid special vouchers that offer services at discounted rates was also hiked while the validity period of some recharge coupons was reduced.
Reports suggested that Airtel had raised voice call price by doubling it to Rs 2 per minute as against the earlier Re 1 per minute. The telecom major reduced free minutes by 10 to 25 per cent and increased the price of special vouchers in the range of Rs 5 to Rs 15.
An Airtel spokesperson confirmed the development, saying the price revision was in line with increasing costs.
“There is no change in the headline tariff. In most circles we have reduced promotional benefits and free minutes on both acquisition (new SIM cards) and existing usage,” the spokesperson said.
He added that continuous decline in margins and increasing costs have had an adverse impact of the long-term financial health of the industry.
The price increase will be extended to all of India's 22 telecommunications zones in phases.
Other operators like Vodafone are likely to follow suit soon. Increasing cost of operations is main reason for hike in tariffs, the companies claimed.
Another firm Idea Cellular, too, reduced the promotional benefits.
Refused to comment
Though the company refused to comment, sources said it had withdrawn some of the promotional offers. Sources also clarified that there was “no across the board” increase in call tariffs.
Airtel and Vodafone recently increased 2G data tariff by up to 30 per cent.
Reliance Communications, the country’s third-biggest phone carrier by customers, raised some voice call prices last September.
Industry sources also said that most telecom firms are likely to hike prices over the next few weeks. It may be noted that Airtel’s net profits have been falling for the last 11 quarters as operating costs increased and a slowdown in customer additions limited revenue growth.
Voice calls account for about 85 per cent of the sector’s revenues, with mobile data still at initial stage.