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Friday, October 18, 2013
Idea MD Sees Tariff Rise Ahead
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It is likely that the Indian telecom industry may observe fewer discounts on data plans while also seeing increased voice tariffs in the coming months, as telcos try to improve margins in a fiercely aggressive sector.
Idea Cellular’s Managing Director, Himanshu Kapania is of the view that the wave of subsidized voice and data services would not last forever.
“Our voice prices are one tenth and data prices are one hundredth globally, which is not going to survive. Consumers have to get used to it. The consumer has expectations but there is a cost attached to it that has to be borne by someone,” Kapania said.
Rajan Mathews, Director-General of COAI has also told Light Reading India, “You would see less discounts on both voice and data packages. Prices will firm up a bit, but I don’t see major surge in voice pricing."
“For data, telcos are investigating the right pricing for various segments of the population and the customers are demanding it. We have to learn from our own mistakes and price as per the needs,” Mathews added.
Very recently, Reliance Communications had reduced the price of 3G services in the country to bring it at par with the 2G prices. Aircel had also introduced uniform pricing for 2G and 3G data services last week. However, others didn't follow suit to bring the down the 3G data prices, and instead they reduced benefits of 2G data plans. For instance, Airtel's Delhi and Mumbai customers are getting only 525 MB of free data instead of 1 GB with a Rs 125 2G data plan.
Airtel has now revised 2G data plan for the 1 GB data usage and is offering it for Rs 154. Idea is also offering the 1GB 2G data plan for the same denomination of Rs 154. Vodafone has also amended the 1 GB 2G data plan and is now offering it for Rs 155.
On tariff pricing, Mathews said that there was no pricing war in the industry right now for both voice and data. “Today we are the leading telecom market globally and have learnt how to price our services and what sachets are attractive to the customers. We need to price services as per the needs, given that the population is a mix of various segments of people and their needs are different,” he added.
Besides tariffs, Kapania had also raised questions on OTT players in the country. “OTT players in the country are using complete infrastructure of telecom operators but are not paying a single penny to them,” he said.
According to him, OTT players are riding on telcos' infrastructure and pipes and there should be some accountability fixed by the government.
"The global OTT market is $60 billion without even including advertising,” he added.