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Cellphone plans get up to 40% costlier in India

Tech Crunch 02 Dec 2019 08:17

India has long been a wonderland for cellphone users. At a time when most telecom operators across the globe charge anywhere between $5 to $10 for a gigabyte of mobile data, telcos in India deliver that for just a few cents.

Spare another $2 to the same telecom operator and you get a gigabyte of mobile data everyday for a month and all your nationwide calls become free.

How is that possible, you ask? In 2016, India’s richest man launched Reliance Jio, a telecom network that undercut the local competition by offering unlimited voice calls and the bulk of 4G mobile data at industry-low prices. Vodafone and Airtel — two of the top three carriers in India — dramatically moved to revise their tariffs to aggressively compete with Jio, but in doing so they began to bleed a lot of money.

So now they are making some changes that suddenly make cellphone plans in the country less attractive — but fret not, these plans are still miles ahead of comparable offerings in most other markets.

Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio — three telecom operators that command over 90% of India’s mobile subscriber base of more than 1.1 billion users — have hiked their tariffs by up to 42% for their prepaid customers. (In India, unlike many other markets, the vast majority of people prefer to pay as they go instead of signing up for a monthly subscription.)

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VodafoneIndiaReliance JioBharti AirtelIndian government