After eliminating bonuses for purchasing data packs online, Bharti Airtel has increased prices for pre-paid 2G and 3G data services in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), echoing Idea Cellular’s recent price hike, the Economic Times reports. The country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Airtel has followed a similar approach to Idea, decreasing the amount of data included in its various packs and shortening the length of time that the plans are valid for. An INR1,555 (USD24.3) 3G data plan, for example, now includes 8GB of downloads rather than the 12GB offered previously, whilst 1GB packs of 2G and 3G data have gone up in price to INR199 and INR299 from INR176 and INR255 respectively.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, Idea increased data charges in Delhi and NCR by up to 100%, ostensibly confirming concerns that the high reserve prices set by the government for airwaves would have a negative impact on consumers. Industry stakeholders had warned in the lead-up to the March 2015 auction that the high reserve prices set by the government – against the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) – would lead to tariff increases and lower levels of investment in infrastructure. Some analysts have suggested that price changes are only a temporary measure, however, claiming that the incumbent operators are trying to maximise their returns before the arrival of 4G start up Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) and the accompanying price war that is anticipated to follow in the wake of the disruptive player’s launch.