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Congress hits out at Centre over telcos hiking tariffs together


The Congress on July 5 questioned how three leading mobile service providers in India were allowed to hike their tariff unilaterally, without any oversight and regulation. 
| Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

The Congress on July 5 questioned how three leading mobile service providers in India were allowed to hike their tariff unilaterally, without any oversight and regulation.

Addressing a press conference, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala slammed the Narendra Modi government for allowing the telecom companies to “fleece” 109 crore mobile phone users. He called it an example of “crony capitalism” thriving under the Modi government, which had “sanctioned profiteering” by private telecom companies.

“Effective July 3, three private cell phone companies, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have increased their tariffs by an average of 15%. The three private cell phone companies had a market share of 91.6%, or 109 crore cell phone users, out of a total of 119 crore cell phone users as on December 31, 2023,” Mr. Surjewala said at a press conference in the party headquarters.

“Two things stand out: firstly, the date of announcement of increase of tariffs, appears to be clearly in consultation with each other. Secondly, the date of effective implementation of increased tariffs is the same,” he added.

The Congress leader cited the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to argue that consumers will have to bear an additional burden of ₹34,824 crore because of the increase in tariffs.

Mobile service market in India is an oligopoly of Reliance Jio (48 crore cell phone users), Airtel (39 crore users), and Vodafone Idea (22.37 crore users), Mr. Surjewala said.

Giving a break-up of the increase by Reliance Jio, Mr. Surjewala said from July 3, the company has increased its cell phone user charges from 12% to 27% and the average increase is 20%, Mr. Surjewala said.

Similarly, for Airtel, the Congress leader claimed the company has increased its user charges from 11% to 21% with the average increase being 15%. And Vodafone Idea has increased its charges from 10% to 24% with the average increase being 16%, Mr. Surjewala added.

The Congress leader asked if the Modi government and TRAI abdicated their responsibility towards 109 cell phone users by allowing the telecom companies to unilaterally increase tariffs.

“Wasn’t the increase in cell phone prices withheld till the conclusion of the Parliament elections as the Modi government would have been questioned on the justification for burdening 109 crore cell phone users and fleecing them of an extra ₹34,824 crore?” Mr. Surjewala asked.



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