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DoT responds to misleading claims regarding recent mobile services tariff increase

As per the Provisions of TRAI Act 1997, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), an independent regulator for telecommunication services, regulates the rates of telecommunication services in the country. Since last two decades, the rates of mobile services has been kept under forbearance by TRAI. The policies of the Government and regulatory framework notified by TRAI has resulted into one of the lowest cost for subscribers of mobile services in India. For minimum mobile, voice and data basket consisting of 140 min + 70 SMS + 2GB, comparison of mobile services pricing, as published by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) (2023) in some of the neighboring and advanced countries is given below:

Economy Measure Names Measure Values
India and neighbouring countries
China  USD 8.84
Afghanistan  USD 4.77
Bhutan  USD 4.62
Bangladesh  USD 3.24
Nepal (Republic of)  USD 2.75
India*  USD 1.89
Pakistan  USD 1.39
Other Countries
USA USD 49
Australia  USD 20.1
South Africa  USD 15.8
UK USD 12.5
Russian Federation  USD 6.55
Brazil  USD 6.06
Indonesia  USD 3.29
Egypt  USD 2.55

The license conditions relating to tariff for mobile services is reproduced below:

“The Licensee will charge the tariffs for the Service as per the Tariff orders/ regulations/ directions/decisions issued by TRAI form time to time. The licensee shall also fulfill requirements regarding publication of tariffs, notifications and provision of information as directed by TRAI through its orders/ regulations/ directions issued from time to time as per the provisions of TRAI Act, 1997 as amended from time to time”.

In India, presently, the mobile services are being delivered by three private sector licensees and one public sector licensee. From the competition point of view, this is an optimal market structure for mobile services.

The rates of telecommunication services are decided by market forces, within the regulatory framework notified by the independent regulator ie. TRAI. The Government does not intervene in the free market decisions as the functionality is under the domain of TRAI and tariffs are under forbearance. Any change in the tariff of mobile services is notified by TSPs to the TRAI, which monitors, that such changes are within the prescribed regulatory framework. It is pertinent to mention here that the TSPs have increased the prices of mobile services after more than 2 years. In last 2 years, some of the TSPs have invested heavily in rolling out the 5G services across the country. This has resulted into a significant increase in median mobile speed to the level of 100 Mbps and jump in the India’s international rank from 111, in October 2022, to 15 today.

While protecting the interests of subscribers , for orderly growth of the telecommunication sector, which include investments in the latest technologies like 5G, 6G, IoT/ M2M for Industry 4.0 etc., the financial viability of the sector is important.

Before last 10 years, the telecommunication sector was mired in controversies, lack of transparency and therefore, growth of mobile services was stagnant. During the last 10 years, due to progressive policies of the Government, the rates of telecommunication services be it voice or data, have fallen exponentially. The Government has been a beneficiary of a large amount of non tax revenue from spectrum auction which has been fully transparent and efficient.

CT Bureau

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