Tariff Hike and Other Policies: Why Are Regulators Silent?

India’s telecom happening was going great, and one day the bubble bursts. Then it is again a dull story. Supreme Court’s cancellation of 122 licenses was catastrophic to the sector. As new players left, the market turns to consolidate a bit, and incumbent ones seem to in the seat of driver. That’s not a good advertisement for Indian telecom which attracted many inside and overseas investment options.

tariff-hike-regulatorSMS Termination Charge

Recently Airtel, Vodafone and Idea blocked incoming sms from Aircel, Tata Tele and Reliance Communications demanding payment for sms termination charges. It’s quite interesting to know TRAI didn’t have a strict regulation for sms termination charge – it is adjustable among operators. The dispute as it is solved by Court order is closed by 5 paisa per sms termination charge. But see one single sms of 160 characters is just few bytes of data and there is no use of making 5paisa per sms termination charges. TRAI should make it zero.

Black out Days

I simply don’t understand making of this ‘black out days’ i.e. paying more for voice and sms on special occasions even if I am subscribed to rate cutters. A new regulation of TRAI says it is now extended to voice also i.e. operators will charge as per the default tariff (varies from Rs 2 per minute or 2 paisa per second). The current scenario is that you will not get an extra validity for these black out days. As TRAI is going, we might see Rs 10 per MB data charges on New Year’s Day. TRAI must save voice from black out days, as voice is the primary need. But best is to remove this concept of Black out days or put a generous cap of 30 minutes of voices, 100 sms, and never extend it to data.

Call Termination Charges

Currently for local call charges its 20p/minute and for STD calls it is 50p/minute. Now as the operators, specially the older ones are hiking tariffs it is wisely advisable that TRAI must cut down call termination charges by 50% or more. I hope for the best that in new telecom policy local call termination charge to be 10p/min and STD call termination charges 20p/min. It will draw shouting from Airtel and other biggies, but be bold, TRAI. It will help new players to sustain in the market and continue to offer low call rates. The new NTP must provide a road map for call termination charges to zero.

Inter circle 3G Roaming or better to be called as ‘3G Spectrum Sharing’ among Airtel, Vodafone and Idea

TRAI or DoT is doing nothing to stop these operators providing 3G in the circles where they don’t have 3G spectrum. The point is they did not spend a single penny for a circle’s 3G spectum, yet they are providing 3G as they share it between them. This cartelization of Indian telecom (COAI become an agent of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea!) is not good for future growth, as it cuts the competition. (Do you think the current low call charges if new players did not enter in 2008? Or just think the state of broadband in India – no competition, no mass adoption). Either stop these culprits and ask for huge penalty or make it legal so that every operator can do this.

Free National Roaming – One Country, One Circle

I am not sold with this, as it has several complications. Say operator ‘A’ offers low tariff in a category C circle, and when someone moves from this circle to a metro (where tariff is high) he will continue to enjoy cheap rates in a top circle. Black marketing is unavoidable. Also those operators are not pan India basis will be charged high from pan India operators to provide their customers to roam on. Rather I suggest for something like this – only pan India operators can offer this, at a minimal cost per year.But national mobile number portability is thumbs up from me. It does have fewer complications.

Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO)

There is no policy of MVNO in India, Virgin Mobile and Talk24 serves as a sub-brand for Tata Teleservices. Once when voice tariff was rock bottom, there was almost no chance for MVNO. But as the voice and 2G tariffs are hiked and stabilizing, and 3G tariff is reduced yet unsold to majority of subscribers I think MVNO in India has some scopes. Why DoT and TRAI are sitting down and waiting for NTP to address MVNO policies? They can already come up with MVNO policy and regulation.

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  • Paul November 12, 2013 9:44 am

    Guys, we need to wake up, send RTI to TRAI, DOT, and then make a case against Telecom. TRAI, DOT I believe does not have an option of penalty on Telecom Operators.

  • NEHA SHARMA May 20, 2013 12:28 pm

    Just file an RTI at TRAI. TRAI had given direction to all service provider not to accept port out request of uninor mumbai customers on 11th march 2013. Customers applied for port out and mobile clearing house also accepted it but due to this direction other service providers are not giving network. still uninor mumbai customers couldnt port out because of TRAI.

  • Vinay The Great May 20, 2013 4:20 am

    Best ever article from RDB all in a nutshell !!! Keep it up boss !

  • david February 11, 2013 11:57 pm

    guys , operators are charging very high rates for a very low byte of text. Only government can stop this looting of operators.

  • Ravi January 15, 2013 7:42 pm

    I had recently ported to VodaFone this is the big mistake i had done they hiked data tariff very heavily with just in a month 98 rs 1gb data to 600mb just 21 days very bad not able to maintain this shit i am shifting they hiked voice and data and sms very unreasonable TROI didn’t even interfere into this issue i am pretty disappointed

  • DK AGGARWAL January 14, 2013 9:48 pm

    BSNL IS BEST SERVICE PROVIDERS FOR POOR PEOPLE. CHEAP RATE COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY . NO CHEATING . NOW NETWORK IS ALSO VERY GOOD

  • Aman Verma January 14, 2013 1:20 pm

    Sir,I was using NET on Reliance,but now i am unable to even recharge my no. now with 2G pack of 99 which used to provide 2 GB of data use,i called customer care and they informed me my no. has been converted into dongle SIM,now i have never used my no. on any dongle so how could that happen….!!!!!
    So plz guide me in getting back my no. for net use!!!
    Plz provide me ways to use my sim as 2G again,I am from Patna(Bihar)…..!!!!!
    Plz help!!!!

  • Kingston January 13, 2013 4:07 pm

    TRAI and kabil sibal supporting to airtel. So we can not expect cheap cal rate and roaming free. TRAI is not ready to reduce sms termination charges.

  • Anirban Das January 13, 2013 12:31 am

    BSNL increased 1p/2sec plan also, Rs. 44 for 30 Days.
    Type of Voucher MRP in Rs. Service Tax in Rs. Card Value in Rs. Processing Fee / (Bonus TV) in Rs. Talk Value in Rs. Validity in days
    Local/STD Rs. 1.00/3 Minutes (On-net) & Rs.1.20/3Minutes (Off-net) 28 3.08 24.92 24.92 0 30
    Local call-any net @1p/ 2 sec 44* 4.84 39.16 39.16 0 30
    Local On-Net@ Rs.0.10/Min 65 7.15 57.85 57.85 0 30
    400 Min Local/STD Any-net call 135 14.85 120.15 120.15 0 30

  • prateek January 12, 2013 12:58 am

    i have aircel and it is good traiff in delhi or ncr and save money also…
    bcz ‘A-Vo-Id is going in traif hike and rel is also not a cheap…
    i used ratecutter for ex..
    68rs…Local A2A 1p/3sec that is 20p/min
    Local A2O 2p/3sec….40p/min
    STD 1p/sec
    Other Benefits
    FTT on any talk time recharge above Rs 50/-.
    and also rc.41rs is superb 4 me…that is
    250mb…2g bcz 3g is not avble in delhi or ncr
    500sms aircel to aircel local
    and 500 sms other local and national
    and also latest ratecutter is rc95rs
    1p/2sec…30p/min
    or 100 min local national 4 30 days val
    full talktime above 51rs
    and also net is chepr in delhi
    29rs unlimited net….4 a week
    98rs 3gb…1 month
    or
    251 unlimited net for 3 months ans also 150 min aircel to aircel
    thats i love aircel
    and most imp is network but in delhi is good network 4 aircel
    aircel is best or chepr but i m waiting 3g in del…

  • sandy January 11, 2013 9:07 pm

    First of all we should kick off the UPA Government from Ruling. Those idiots hiked the fuel charges which is the basic reason for hike in telecom industry. Fuels required for mobile towers cost should be covered by companies to prevent loss. Also we should avoid AVoId group for the improvement in telecom industry. This group neither come up nor give other companies to come up. All kind of halkat ideas initiative are this AVoId group

  • Jagannath January 11, 2013 8:44 pm

    Really these three providers airtel-vodafone-Idea make the market disaster. We hope Uninor-Videocon-Loop make pan India base in future. Only after this ‘A-Vo-Id’ be in compitition and reduce all type of tarrifs. Now a days call is cheaper than sms. It’s not actual growth and reliance of these Biggg-providers. Day by day they lost infinite customers. It’s like ‘dine dakati’

  • Jan January 11, 2013 1:20 pm

    Price rise in any sector shows deficiency of Govt s interference in the sector.

    This UPA govt focuses only on making themselves rich by looting the poor taxpayers.

    Unlike the other sectors, Telecom and IT sectors deal with “non-consumable” items. Nothing here gets exhausted through usage. So the Govt doesnt need to price them extensively. Even if the Govt gives the spectrum for FREE, govt is going to lose nothing, no raw material gets exhausted.

    Govt s policies are insufficient for the progress and development of this sector. If they want mobile penetration in the rural India, we need the Tariff to be lower.

    If this situation, continues further, Mobile Phones would become a commodity of the rich…as it was few years ago.

  • Manish Adhikari January 11, 2013 11:06 am

    Reliance also came under increase price tariff…..
    In Delhi Circle they increase all the STV
    Like RC 195 previously give unlimited R2R for 30 days reduced to 15days;
    also RC 148 which gives 1000R2R local and 500Local minutes reduced to only 500 local minutes…..
    Now what should we do now friends….
    It’s time to quite from these cheat companies…..
    TRAI please do something as soon as possible before they increase any other tariff..

  • S.Tiwari January 10, 2013 11:01 pm

    Why we can not send a link of this article to TRAI , they may wake up and take some action in reducing tariff
    TRAI email ID is ap @ trai.gov.in

    • Darshil January 11, 2013 12:21 am

      Do it man! Ask all readers of TT to read this story and mail to TRAI. These days UPA sucks, Gvt is run by lobbying! Kibal supports Airtel;s issue! COAI is nothing but an agent of AVoId.

  • CS January 10, 2013 3:43 pm

    TRAI makes stupid rules and does nothing useful.

  • F1 January 10, 2013 3:13 pm

    Airtel, Vodafone & Idea has paid Trai to keep their mouth shut

  • Ganesh January 10, 2013 2:23 pm

    Nice article. It clearly shows how TRAI encourages the operators to hike the price from behind the scenes while acting to the people of India that TRAI is a very good regulatory body! TRAI’s main duty is reduce the tariff and encourage healthy competition! But this doesn’t seem like the case. I think TRAI has become the government’s next puppet.

  • idroid January 10, 2013 2:11 pm

    dude you are forgetting… Reliance Infotel is yet to enter the game…….then no cartel will work….

    • Darshil January 11, 2013 12:24 am

      Infotel is still 2-3 months away, and none knows when they are available across the country.

      MTS is a strong competitor, it is almost sure it is staying in India. with Evdo & cheap tariff it can be a savior. only prob is Indian people don’t like CDMA as much!

  • Arka January 10, 2013 12:52 pm

    Very Very Nice article.Thanks a lot Rudradeep. I will be glad if this article is read by Kapil Sibal. I think that The A-Vo-Id group are controlling the Indian Telecom Industry not only by the revenue or the maximum number of subscribers but they control TRAI/DOT also.So,therefore,I don’t hope for the solutions,that you have told in this article. Neither they will stop 3G Roaming,nor they offer Roam Free across India to us.I wonder,when again and again DOT/TDSAT warns them and told them to stop 3G Roaming-they even did not care for those. For this A-Vo-Id group,today SMS rate is so sky high. They want to dominate The whole Industry and they are desperate to do so.

  • saravanan January 10, 2013 12:45 pm

    new operators like mts, uninor, videocon are going to shut down its operations from few more days. so mobile phone usage tariff will also increase by 2 times per month. trai will impose to collect the past 2g scam loss from customers.

  • Sudhanshu January 10, 2013 12:30 pm

    @Rudradeep Biswas
    i think in India there is policy for MVNO.

    please go through below link & download
    ictregulationtoolkit.org/en/Document.3636.pdf

    • Darshil January 11, 2013 12:27 am

      I just read the pdf, it is too old made in 2008. During 2008-2011 there was a little scope for MVNO in India. But as tariff hike is ongoing, 3G is still costly for majority of customers MVNO can leapjump into !

  • Vrij January 10, 2013 12:28 pm

    Call/SMS termination charges should not be 0. This can lead to spam. Nominal charges like 1p for SMS and 5p/m for both Local/STD can be levied.

    Agree that there should be NO black out days.

    3G roaming can be made legal. Govt auctioned spectrum. Its like I’d give my house for rent to the max bidder. How the bidder uses it is not of concern to anybody. I can re-rent the house to someone.

    Incoming call charges on Roaming should be abolished. Outgoing can remain as it stands. Call packs should not be valid outside the home circle. SMS and data roaming should be free, ie, base rate/data pack should be valid across the country.

    • S.Sudhakar January 10, 2013 1:20 pm

      What the hell are you talking?.

      After roaming becomes free, the booster packs enabled in home circle must be valid in roaming also.

      For example :
      If you have enabled Rs.125 voice pack in Airtel Tamilnadu which gives on net calls within the state at Rs.0.10 and offnet mobile calls within the state at Rs.0.30 per min, it should be valid when roaming in Delhi also (like calls to Airtel delhi mobiles at Rs.0.10 per min and calls to other mobiles in Delhi at Rs.0.30). All charges mentioned here are for 60 seconds pulse. The same must apply for voice and data also.

      There must not be blackout days. Or each SMS (all India) can be charged at Rs.0.10 per SMS during the festival days and not Rs.0.50 or Rs.1.00.

    • ICAN January 10, 2013 3:12 pm

      TRAI already restrict only 100 Discounted SMS… So i dont think if termination charge is ZERO it not lead to SMS Spamming

  • Nirakar Panda January 10, 2013 12:11 pm

    TRAI is working for the Larger benefit of the telecom (Private) companies, some more Examples:

    1. Restricting BSNL of Roaming free of STV12
    2. Putting of Charges while calling to Customer care
    3. Being silent for Increasing the SMS tariffs/Unable to control the tariffs.
    and so on…

    So Being a customer we should not expect anything from TRAI towards the benefit or betterment of Customers.

    • S.Sudhakar January 10, 2013 1:22 pm

      Well said man. But note that there may be temporary reduction in mobile tariff around 2013 last or 2014 starting because of central government election !!!.

      • Lalit January 10, 2013 2:58 pm

        Don’t expect the same! As the diesel & power prices are going to be increased in near future by 25%. So the cost of all services will increase minimum by 15%. Kick the government at centre for not regulating the prices from past 8 years and started imposing in 6 months.

  • Esmail January 10, 2013 11:50 am

    Beautifully written article, wonder when the times of pocket friendly mobile tariffs with quality service will be back in India.

    • Darshil January 11, 2013 12:29 am

      Now the trend is enjoy low tariff, but have costly rate cutters!

      • DB January 11, 2013 2:40 pm

        @ DARSHIL
        you are perfectly right … Operators now realise that they cannot totally withdraw low tariffs (due to continued competition) – so the Strategy is to offer NORMAL TARIFFS or LOW TARIFFS + RATE CUTTERS … Customer has 2 choices here !!

  • Ashish January 10, 2013 11:29 am

    TRAI is in pocket of these big operators..