Bharti Airtel to raise mobile call, data charges by up to 42%

Yolanda Curtis
December 2, 2019

While Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Limited announced rate hikes on pre-paid packages by up to 42 per cent beginning December 3, Reliance Jio said it is introducing "all-in-one" or AIO plans, which will see tariffs marked up to 40 per cent higher than previous plans and will be effective from December 6.

Increase in tariff announced by Bharti Airtel, however, are marginally lower compared to new rates announced by Vodafone Idea.

In a massive blow to telecom companies, the apex court, on October 24, allowed the central government to recover Rs 92,641 crore in AGR from telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio.

Except for Rs 149 plan, all other 28-day validity plans (Rs 249, Rs 299, Rs 399) offers 100 SMS per day.

This is the first hike in last five years in the country's telecom space that was facing bruising tariff war, with voice calls becoming nearly free and data prices fell by 95 per cent to Rs 11.78 per GB from Rs 269 per GB in 2014.

Though the company classifies a set of plans in "unlimited" category, these actually come with usage limit for data at a promised speed and 100 SMS per day limit.

The starting plan with data offering of 1.5 Gb per day with 84 days validity in "unlimited" category will cost around 31 per cent more at Rs 598 compared to Rs 458 at present.

Vodafone Idea 84-day validity plans have FUP limit of 3,000 for off-net calls, unlike 28-day validity plans from Vodafone Idea.

Vodafone Idea annual (365-day validity) plans have a FUP limit of 12,000 minutes for off-net calls made from Vodafone to other networks. "In case of customer purchasing Combo Voucher/STV, validity of voucher will prevail over Plan Voucher validity", the company added.

On its part, Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio) has launched new all-in-one plans, effectively increasing tariffs by upto 40 per cent. All the updated Vodafone Idea plans have FUP limit of 1,000 minutes on off-net calls (Vodafone to other networks).

Customers of both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea will have to pay a minimum of Rs 49 to stay connected for about a month after December 3.

Post the revisions, the current Rs 129 pack for 28 days with unlimited calling, 300 SMS, and 2GB data will cost Rs 148, an Airtel statement said.

The move from the companies follows the Supreme Court judgement on adjusted gross revenue. Bharti Airtel has posted a staggering Rs 23,045 crore net loss for the second quarter ending 30 September, due to provisioning of Rs 28,450 crore in the aftermath of the SC ruling on statutory dues. In replies to separate questions in the Lok Sabha, Prasad said telecom companies owe the government Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fees, and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. Off-net calls after the free usage in the plan would be charged at 6p/min. "Customers can avail their benefits by just selecting the plan best suited to their specific needs and continue to enjoy seamless connectivity across India", said the company in a release.

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