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India telecoms

Just in: Bharti Airtel, others seek regulator’s review of data pricing in India

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At a time Nigerian data services providers’ had apparently become tired of prevailing on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to review Nigerian Data price Floor (DPF) in line with current economic realities, India’s big three operators— Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio – have lead calls to the regulator for new floor pricing in data services segment.

The proposal for the new DPF came from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents all of India’s telecom service providers and network vendors except the two state-run enterprises Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).

Details from a recent Indian news reports showed that fierce rivalry which recently brought price-cutting competition contributed to the lowering of ARPU.

However, the key argument behind the call for fresh DPF seems to be that none of the three carriers can voluntarily carry out tariff correction.

The answer, it would seem, is floor pricing – a fixed lower limit on the price of a service.

Though observers say it’s a decidedly unusual step, especially from Reliance, which has been a strong driver of price cutting in the market, however, given recent reversals in the Supreme Court, where operators were told to pay vast dues outstanding to government, not to mention the burden of massive existing debts, perhaps it should not be too surprising.

Already, all three operators have already increased voice tariffs and indications are not very clear if the telecom regulator is in a mood to take the trending request on board at the moment.

Last week, the secretary in the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Anshu Prakash, said that no reference has been made to the sector regulator on setting a floor price on tariffs.

Besides, the lead telecoms regulator in India, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), is yet to make a categorical statement on the trending industry issue.

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