Music to ears of mobile phone users: Tariff wars may not end anytime soon, says Sunil Bharti Mittal

By: | Updated: February 28, 2017 10:51 AM

Mobile phone tariff wars in the country are not due to end any time soon even with new rival Reliance Jio’s free voice and data offers ending next month, Bharti Airtel Sunil Bharti Mittal said to CNBC TV18, bringing good news to consumers who, for the past several months, have been enjoying dirt cheap telephony rates.

Reliance Jio’s tariff structure is still very aggressive with the amount of data being given and free voice, so the other operators have to respond, Sunil Bharti Mittal said. (Image: Reuters)

There is more good news for mobile phone users as the head of India’s largest telecom operator said the tariff wars in the country are not due to end any time soon even with new rival Reliance Jio’s free voice and data offers ending next month, cheering consumers who, for the past several months, have been enjoying dirt cheap telephony rates as the operators vie for market share.

Reliance Jio’s tariff structure is still very aggressive, so the other operators have to respond, Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal told CNBC TV18 in an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona.

“We always have to respond to markets,” Mittal said to CNBC TV18. “I am pleased that Jio has started to charge but the tariffs are still very aggressive (with) the amount of data that is being given (and) voice is still free,” Mittal said, adding, “so obviously operators will have to respond.”

Earlier last week, Reliance Jio said it will start charging money from consumers for using its mobile telephony services, which it was offering so far for free. Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani said that Reliance Jio will offer its “prime” customers 1GB data per day with unlimited voice calls for Rs 303 per month, on a one-time payment of Rs 99.

Following Reliance Jio’s lead, Bharti Airtel itself yesterday announced scrapping national roaming charges and introduced an automatic facility to prevent users from steep roaming charges on international networks, effective from April 1 this year. India will be a country with the lowest tariffs in the world, CNBC TV18 reported citing Sunil Mittal.

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Reliance Jio’s entry into the telecom space has forced the incumbent players to drastically cut tariffs – as much as by 66% – in order to retain their customer base, and has put the entire sector under tremendous pressure of choosing between protecting margins and user base.

Reliance Jio, which launched its services on September 8 last year, has been providing data and voice telephony services for free under various promotional schemes. It extended its inaugural free voice and data plan till March 31, drawing complaints and criticisms from its biggest rivals Airtel, Vodafone and Idea, who assert that its anti-competitive practices and freebies are hurting the industry.

Reliance Jio has already got 100 million users in just 170 days of launching the operations – not a mean feat to achieve in less than six months.

 

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