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Airtel & Idea now charge same for less data & validity on 3G recharges; why?

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A month after we did a story documenting the Fair Usage Policy (FUP) plans in India, the top 2 telecom operators seem to have lowered the data limits and validity of prepaid 3G recharges in India. About a week or two ago, we started noticing that the Rs 100 recharge for 300MB of 3G data (varies between Rs 97-Rs 103, depending on provider), with a validity for 21 days, had been reduced to 250MB of data and 10 day validity.

Pay more for prepaid 3G every month

The new plans not only charge the same amount of for 20% less MBs of data, but the minimum amount needed for recharging your 3G data plan for a month’s validity has gone up by 47% from Rs 170-180 to Rs 250. Note that you get these figures by adding either 4 weekly recharges, 2 fortnightly recharges or one monthly recharge (minimum value)

Only Vodafone offers 28 day validity for Rs 100 3G recharge

While Vodafone still hasn’t reduced its validity from 28 days in the Delhi NCR circle (and offers 250MB data, down from 300MB, for Rs 97), Airtel offers 300MB of data for just 10 days validity at Rs 99, the same as Idea Cellular at 300MB of data for 10 day validity for Rs 102. However, the next available recharge on Vodafone for 28 days validity is priced at Rs 249 for 650MB of data.

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Image: Airtel, Idea and Vodafone:

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Data session usage information should be provided to consumers

In May, owing to the high volume of complaints from customers in regards to non-availability of information of data usage sessions, the TRAI released a draft called the “Telecom Consumers Protection (Eighth Amendment) Regulations, 2015″ where it proposed that telcos provide data usage info, alerts on usage of 50, 90 and 100 percent usage and explicit customer consent for activating and deactivating data services. Since the tariff for data when the a data pack expires (data usage is charged through talktime balance) is higher (for example 3paisa/kb), customers are unaware of their data pack expiry and hence end up shelling a lot more money than they had planned to use initially, TRAI said.

MediaNama’s take: We’d reported in January 2013 that telcos had increased 2G data tariffs by almost 30% to cover costs and improve margins. While telcos think it necessary to cash in on the 3G data craze happening on mobile internet in India, the lowering of data MBs and validity will not help in gaining customers. The reason everybody could afford a data plan on their (even lower end) smartphones was because the price was restricted to Rs 100 (300MB) for a month and users on WiFi rarely need that much data unless they’re on roaming or prefer not to use WiFi. The TRAI amendment should have also asked telcos to inform their customers in case they increased the pricing tiers of their data plans.

Image Credit: Flickr user Armando Alves

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Written By

I'm a MediaNama alumna from 2015-16 (remember TinyOwl?) now back to cover e-services like food and grocery delivery, app based transport and policies, platforms and media in India.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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