Tech Talk: Jio, Airtel and others raise prices - what lies ahead

Starting December, telecom bills in every house has risen by at least 40%. This will be the first time since 2016, that these prices have been increased. A couple of years back when Reliance Jio was announced, it was the dawn of 4G connectivity in the country. With 4G we got blazing fast internet right in our palms at a mind-boggling price. Apart from cheap data, voice calls across the country became free.

However, with the advent of Reliance Jio, the Indian telecom industry went through a major reconciliation. The entire landscape changed with smaller players like Reliance Communication, Aircel, Tata Docomo, Uninor, etc. got obliterated overnight. Established players like Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, and BSNL also felt the pressure and had to rejig their businesses. Costs to upgrade hardware to deploy a 4G network and make old ones 4G compatible was over and above the huge amounts paid to the government to acquire the required 4G spectrum.

A few years back we paid almost 200 Rs. per GB of 3G data but thanks to the price war consumers paid an almost similar amount for the entire month which included free voice calls and 1 or 2 GB of 4G data, every day. This prolonged price war has now ended and all these companies have realized that they cannot sustain without increasing the prices considerably.

What lies ahead

While the analysts were expecting this price hike for the prepaid consumers, no one expected the rise to be so steep. In a few cases, the new packs are 50% costlier. All the voice calls made to other networks are chargeable now with some analysts are even predicting that calls on the same network will also become chargeable in the near future.

As a whole, consumers, especially prepaid users, are the most impacted with the price increase but this was imminent. This price hike is also expected to induce confidence among the investors and will allow companies to raise funds easily, which in turn means better infrastructure, improved call quality and faster data connectivity.

This will mark the return of multiple plans, offers, FUPs and after this brief period of enjoying all these freebies, it feels like déjà vu. Isn’t it?

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