Millennium Post

Telcos seek floor price in data tariffs

New Delhi: Telecom operators have proposed sector regulator Trai to fix a minimum price for mobile internet as no company on its own is in a position to decide on it due to fierce competition in the market, industry body COAI said on Tuesday.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), in a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), said that Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have agreed that the data tariffs should be regulated, a move which was vehemently opposed by the industry players in the past. However, private telecom operators want call rates to continue to remain unregulated.

"All the current telecom service providers in the private sector, namely Bharti Airtel Limited, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea limited are in complete agreement that Trai be requested to regulate tariffs by setting floor price for data services," COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said in the letter dated December 3, 2019.

The development comes following the three private telecom operators, which account for 90 per cent market share, raising mobile call and internet rates by up to 50 per cent from December 3 onwards. This is the first hike in the past five years in the country's telecom sector facing tariff war, with voice calls becoming almost free in 2016 and a steep 95 per cent fall in data prices to Rs 11.78 per GB at present from Rs 269 per GB in 2014.

"We further submit that the tariff correction in the current level of fierce competition is not possible by any service provider voluntarily and thus the only option available is prescription of a minimum tariff for mobile data service by the authority," Mathews said. He said that a tariff correction for data services will not be out of sync with global trends as India has the lowest data tariffs globally, estimated to be around 50 times lower than the price in major developing and developed countries.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said mobile internet rate in the country remains by far the lowest in the world.

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