Bharti Airtel to raise call, data charges by up to 50%

Representative image.

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Sunday announced new plans under which call and data charges will be dearer for its pre-paid customers by up to 50 per cent from December 3.

The development came a few hours after Vodafone Idea announced plans to raise mobile rates on similar lines.

Increase in tariff announced by Bharti Airtel, however, is marginally lower compared to new rates announced by Vodafone Idea.

"Airtel’s new plans, represent tariff increases in the range of a mere 50 paise per day to Rs 2.85 per day and offer generous data and calling benefits. These tariffs will be applicable from Tuesday, December 3, 2019," the company said in a statement.

Like Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel too will increase its entry-level unlimited plan with a year-long validity by about 50 per cent to Rs 1,499 from with 24 GB of data in place of existing plan of Rs 998, which comes with 12 GB data usage limit.

The price 365 days validity plan in the same category with a daily data usage limit of 1.5 GB per day will cost 41.2 per cent more at Rs 2,398 from December 3 instead of 1,699 at present.

The new pricing represents a very modest increase. The effective revision in today's context is equal to what a customer would pay for a cup of tea in a week on a roadside stall, a company official who did not wish to be named said.

Customers of both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea will have to pay a minimum of Rs 49 to stay connected for about a month after December 3.

Like Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel has also capped outgoing calls that can be made on to the network of another telecom operator to 1,000 minutes in case of plans with 28 days validity, 3,000 in 84 days validity plans and 12,000 in 365 days validity plan. Beyond this limit, the customer will need to pay 6 paise per minute for outgoing calls.

The highest rate increase of 41.14 per cent has been announced by the company in an annual unlimited category plan which will cost Rs 2,398 instead of 1,699 at present.

The starting plan with data offering of 1.5 Gb per day with 84 days validity in the "unlimited" category will cost around 31 per cent more at Rs 598 compared to Rs 458 at present.

The company will raise the price of Rs 199 unlimited plan, which offers 1.5 Gb data per day, by about 25 per cent to Rs 248.

The move from both companies follows the Supreme Court judgement on adjusted gross revenue.

Bharti Airtel has posted a staggering Rs 23,045 crore net loss for the second quarter ended September 30, due to provisioning of Rs 28,450 crore in the aftermath of the SC ruling on statutory dues.

According to government data, the liabilities in the case of Bharti Airtel add up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, of which Rs 21,682 crore is licence fee and another Rs 13,904.01 crore is the SUC dues (excluding the dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices).

The government is currently not considering any proposal on waiver of penalties and interest on outstanding licence fee based on adjusted gross revenue (AGR), or on extending the timelines for telecom companies to pay up their statutory dues.

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