NEW DELHI: After increasing prepaid tariffs by up to 40 per cent earlier this month, private telecom operator Bharti Airtel has announced raising the minimum monthly recharge for prepaid users to Rs 45 with effect from Sunday. The minimum monthly recharge amount till now has been Rs 35.
The announcement pertained to prepaid subscribers of Bharti Airtel and Bharti Hexacom in all service areas, the company announced.
The latest move by Airtel comes at a time when telecom service providers are taking several measures to improve profitability and stay operational in a hostile ecosystem.“It will be mandatory to recharge with a voucher of Rs 45 or above, every 28 days, to avail services,” Airtel said in a public notice.
“In case of non-recharge with a voucher of Rs 45 or above, at the end of the tariff validity period, Airtel reserves the right to provide the plan benefits in a curtailed manner at its own discretion during the grace period of 15 days. In case of non-recharge of a voucher with Rs 45 or above, all services will be suspended post the grace period,” the telecom company said.
The move also comes at a time when telcom sector regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has opened a consultation process on whether or not to set floor tariffs for voice and data services.
Sector analysts say the latest move will affect the low-income cateogy people who have been enjoying dirt-low tariffs since the entry of Reliance Jio in the sector.
Some major setbacks in the recent times, in the form of Supreme Court’s ruling on the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) and higher prices of 5G spectrum have propelled telecom sector players to take steps that are not-so-consumer-friendly.
Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea had recently hiked tariffs in the country.Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal had recently said a combination of rock-bottom tariffs and high consumption was killing the telecom industry and sector regulator Trai needs to urgently intervene to strike a balance between the needs for protecting investments and consumer interest.“We are unnecessarily killing this industry in a manner and way that is not conducive for it. That’s why we need TRAI’s intervention,” Mittal had said.
Mobile calls and data costs may shoot up
Trai has released a consultation paper to fix minimum or floor rates for mobile phone calls and data, a move that will effectively end the regime of free calling and dirt-cheap data. The outcome is likely to lead to further hike in mobile call and data cost as the industry wants average revenue per user to reach I300 per month from about I125 at present over a period of two years.