Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel agreed on the need to regulate the price of internet data
Private telecom operators want call rates to remain unregulated
India has the lowest mobile data rates in the world
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to step in and set a minimum price for mobile data plans. Interestingly, this decision is surprising as telecommunications players have been against such regulation in the past. India’s three major telecoms operators – Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel – have all agreed on the need to regulate data tariffs.
Telecom operators have urged TRAI to set a minimum price for mobile data, according to a PTI report, as industry body COAI is unable to decide the same, due to intense competition. in the telecommunications market.
On the other hand, private telecom operators want call rates to remain unregulated.
The issue comes at a time when Vodafone Idea, Airtel and Jio have increased the prices of their prepaid voice and data services by up to 50%. This is the first time since 2016 that such a price adjustment has been made. Despite this, Rajan Mathews, chief executive of COAI, said India has the lowest tariff in the world, estimated to be around 50 times less than the rest of the world.
Driven by the rapid adoption of Internet users in rural areas, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has forecast India to have 627 million Internet users by the end of 2019. But Indian telecoms companies have not come to an agreement on all issues in the past two years, especially as Jio’s rise to power with its exclusive pan-Indian 4G license has impacted the revenues of Airtel, Vodafone, Idea (before the merger with Vodafone) and others.
As recently as last month, Jio accused TRAI of being biased against those companies with its decision to extend the zero termination fee deadline for calls. Jio said failure to remove these interconnection user charges (IUC), which telecom companies prey on each other to terminate calls, would “sabotage” Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship Digital India program.
Jio accused TRAI of bending to the vested interests of “legacy” telecommunications operators, who “exploit” customers by charging heavily for 2G and voice calls. The company has claimed it should end free voice calls and increase tariffs if the UCI is not revoked, which it said will affect consumers.