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Airtel MD says tariff absurdly low pitches for removal of unlimited plans

Telecom service provider Bharti Airtel on Wednesday made a pitch for removal of unlimited plans and a revision of tariffs as they are “absurdly low “in the country. Gopal Vittal, managing director of Bharti Airtel, during the Q4 earnings call, urged both of its competitors to address the issue of unlimited plans and called for participation from all telcos in raising tariffs.

“The architecture of pricing in India is quite broken because people who can afford to pay a lot more are paying a lot less simply because of these unlimited plans, which are like effectively a one-size-fits-all plan… If you look at markets like Indonesia or Thailand or any of the markets in Asia, you’ll find small, medium, large, extra large, and there’s a pathway to monetisation. That unfortunately is not the case in India, but this is not something that we can do alone. This needs to be something that we would be happy to follow if this happens,” said Vittal.

Vittal added that Airtel has stopped all investments in 4G, and the entire capacity enhancement is now only happening in 5G services. On the tariff hike, the telco said tariff repair needs to happen across the industry with participation from all telcos in the country. He said Airtel can take a lead in tariff, but others need to follow or it will hurt the company. It has the highest ARPU of Rs 208 and is targeting it to be nearly Rs 300.

However, Vittal believes even Rs 300 ARPU would still be one of the lowest in the world. “It is a competitive market and repair will need to happen across the industry, just us doing it, we could do it, we could lead it, we could start it…but the fact is that if competition doesn’t follow, then it will hurt us and that’s a challenge,” said Vittal.

Bharti Airtel, the country’s second-largest telecom service provider, reported a dip of 31.1% year-on-year (YoY) in its consolidated net profit to Rs 2,072 crore for the March quarter of the financial year 2023-24. It attributed the drop in net profit to the devaluation of African currencies during the period, particularly the Nigerian Naira. New Indian Express

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