A day after Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea announced their decision to increase tariffs, Reliance Jio on Tuesday said that it will increase telecom service charges in the next few weeks, among other measures.
Jio, which had stormed the telecom sector with free voice calls and dirt cheap data, had for the first time last month made a decision to charge phone calls by its users to rival phone networks to compensate for interconnect usage charges.
As on September 30, 2019, Vodafone Idea had a subscriber market share of 31.73 per cent, Reliance Jio had a market share of 30.26 per cent, and Bharti Airtel of 27.74 per cent. State-run MTNL saw 8,717 users move out (33.93 lakh user base), while BSNL added 7.37 lakh users to take its total base to 11.69 crores.
"Mobile data charges in India are by far the cheapest in the world even as the demand for mobile data services continues to grow rapidly", the company formed by the merger of Vodafone Group's local unit with billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla's Idea Cellular, said in a statement on Monday (Nov 18). "It is, therefore, extremely important that the industry remains viable to support the vision of Digital India", Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
The increase was followed by Bharti Airtel, which also said it will raise tariffs from next month. Vodafone Idea has said that its ability to continue business will depend on reliefs sought from the government, which needs to ease off on payment demands. The government calculates levies on telecom operators on the basis of this definition.
A TRAI source told PTI earlier on Tuesday that the telecom regulator will wait for operators to report their new tariffs to the authority before taking a view on whether the revised pricing is within the regulatory framework. The telecom company's move has now put the taxmen in a bind.
Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel had announced higher rates for calls and data, amid ongoing financial troubles. The company posted a net profit of 9.9 billion rupees in the September quarter, up 45.4% year-on-year, as data consumption surged on the back of more subscribers onboarding the network. A complaint was lodged for the same by IT Department.