India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel followed Idea Cellular’s lead by increasing 2G and 3G data prices for prepaid customers.
An Airtel representative said that prepaid data tariffs have increased due to it discontinuing discounts.
Its prepaid 2G customers will now get 1.25GB of data for INR199 ($3.10) instead of the previous 2GB, which is an effective 37.5 per cent increase. The 3G data change was more modest, with the price of 1GB rising from INR249 to INR255.
Idea, the country’s third largest operator, raised data rates by up to 100 per cent in the New Delhi region earlier this week. It doubled tariffs for prepaid 2G customers and increased 3G data rates by 33 per cent, stating the higher prices would be extended to other regions soon.
The increases come after widespread speculation that operators would need to boost prices following their record payout for 4G spectrum.
Vodafone India, the number 2 player, said it was ”evaluating a response” to the increases by its rivals, Economic Times said.
The country’s spectrum auctions, which closed on 25 March, raised a record INR1.1 trillion ($17.6 billion) from eight operators.
Idea was the biggest spender – paying about INR303 billion for 79.4MHz of spectrum, with renewals making up the majority of its spending. Airtel spent a total of INR291 billion for 111.6MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.1GHz bands.
The outgoing chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in April mobile rates need to increase by 12-15 per cent to make up for the investments in spectrum.