Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India have cut 2G data allowances by almost half without lowering prices, essentially doubling the cost of the service.
Previously customers received 1GB of 2G data allowance for R155. This amount has now been nearly halved to 512MB for smartphone users, marking the second increase in tariffs this year.
An Airtel spokesperson noted: "We did this sometime back in a few circles. Other telcos like Vodafone have also followed suit. Many of our prepaid customers may have now received our revised 2G data plan after they have exhausted their discounts and freebies offered for 2G data."
An official of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said, "Cash-strapped telcos have adopted a strategy to propel first-time smartphone users to use 3G & push their existing 2G data users to experience faster speed on 3G. Clearly, the move is to pull out all the stops to cover costs and improve margins."
An official with a leading telecom company admitted that none of the operators have been able to increase 3G penetration as smartphone users have largely stuck to 2G data services. While the number of smartphone users has gone up by 205% in a year, leading telcos have seen less than 8% growth in 3G data services.