Consumers will now have to pay up to 30 per cent extra for data services as leading telecom players Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are hiking tariffs and others may soon follow suit.
Bharti Airtel recently increased 2G data rates and rivals are expected to take similar steps to cover costs and improve margins, said industry officials.
Airtel recently revised its 1GB 2G data plan from Rs 100 to Rs 125.
"This nominal price revision is subject to rate elasticity, customer demand and supporting cost structures.
Our recent revision...is an increase of only 2-3 paise per MB. It continues to be an excellent value proposition for our customers," an Airtel spokesperson said.
Vodafone too has made similar changes in the monthly plans and has reduced data limits available under various prepaid plans.
While the Rs 95 plan (28 days validity) is now available for Rs 124, others plans allowing 250 MB data usage and 150 MB usage have been reduced to 150 MB and 100MB, respectively.
When contacted, Vodafone spokesperson said: "We are aware of some of our competitors increasing tariffs for 2G data recently.
"We see this as an encouraging step for the industry and are taking corrective measures accordingly at our end."
Idea Cellular spokesperson declined to comment, but sources said the company may also revise data tariffs.
Bharti Airtel has maintained for long that prices of voice and non-voice services need to be hiked for the telecom industry to remain healthy, invest in future technologies and generate returns for shareholders.
"The current tariffs do not even cover marginal costs for most operators. So from an economics perspective, do we need to increase prices? The answer is yes," Bharti Airtel CEO (India and South Asia) Sanjay Kapoor had said earlier.
Industry officials say that competitive pressures have prevented telecom operators from hiking rates so far.
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