Airtel, the private sector telecom giant, facing pressure because of declining profit for the 7th consecutive quarter, has increased international call rate tariffs by up to 10% for some destinations for all customers and reduced certain benefits on add-on services for its prepaid subscribers. Airtel had over 171 million mobile phone subscribers by end of August, 2011.
All the schemes which allowed its prepaid customers to get flexibility on billing plans, reduce call rates during roaming, etc, will now have fewer benefits.Validity of such schemes has been reduced to 6 months from 1 year. The company also reduced the benefit offered under wireless Internet service on mobile phones – GPRS. It is now giving 1 GB data download limit for Rs. 98/- instead of 2 GB offered earlier.
The silver lining is that the company has reduced the regular data download price of its 2G and 3G network to 10 paise per 10 KB from 30 paise per KB offered earlier.
Earlier in July, 2011 Airtel had announced up to 20% increase in tariff for prepaid users. Later, other telecom service providers also increased rates of their services. Probably, all the telecom companies are under pressure as they have spent huge amount on 2G and 3G spectrum, and they are not getting the type of returns which they had envisaged. It appears that other telecom companies may follow the suit and increase rates of their services.