Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a consultation paper on fixing floor price for data services.
Recently, telecom operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance have hiked their cellular tariffs by up to 50 percent.
The consultation paper from TRAI follows the request of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to Department of Telecommunications (DoT) seeking floor tariff fixation by the regulator / the Government.
COAI said that the tariff correction in the current level of 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 TRAI.
However, COAI has asked for forbearance in respect of voice services stating that TRAI would be aware that voice services are considered as essential services especially by the subscribers at bottom of pyramid and therefore would need to be continued under the present forbearance regime.
COAI said Tariff correction is necessary for improving the financial health of the industry in India. The only option available for TRAI is to intervene and correct the anomalous pricing situation prevailing in the market place.
“We believe that such regulation will ensure that the telecom industry remains healthy and robust, there is orderly competition and above all, the resources are available with TSPs to enhance QoS and expansion of networks to achieve the vision of Digital India,” said Rajan S Mathews, director general of COAI.
Total number of wireless data subscribers increased from 281.58 million at the end of year 2014 to 664.80 million at the end of September 2019 and achieving a yearly growth rate of 36.36 percent in 2018 over 2017.
The volume of wireless data usage increased from 828 million GB in 2014 to 46,404 million GB in 2018. The wireless data usage in 2019 is expected to surpass the previous year usage by a significant margin as reflected by usage of 54917 million GB till September 2019, TRAI said.