New Delhi: Increase in prepaid plan prices by telecom operators will help them raise revenues and the companies may soon hike prices for postpaid plans as well, according to sector analysts.

The analysts also said Reliance Jio's plans are expected to be cheaper as compared to its rivals even after 40 per cent hike in mobile call and internet charges announced by the company.

This is the first hike over the past five years in the country's telecom sector that is facing tariff war with voice calls becoming almost free in 2016 and steep 95 per cent fall in data prices to 11.78 per GB at present from 269 per GB in 2014.

They said the hike of up to 50 per cent in prepaid plan prices by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (VIL) will help the operators increase their revenues.

"Over the next few days, we expect Bharti (Airtel) and VIL to announce tariff changes in their postpaid plans as well," Emkay Global said in its report.

Bharti Airtel and VIL announced 15-50 per cent rise in 'unlimited' usage category prepaid plans. The new plans will come into effect from December 3 and existing customers under these plans will have to pay the new rates after they complete six months in their existing plan.

"Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have announced tariff hike of sub-25 per cent for 349 and below plans, where about 60 per cent of subscribers reside. We believe average impact on ARPU (average revenue per user) would be 25-30 per cent due to tariff hike," Axis Capital said.

Kotak Institutional Equities said the hike in mobile rates is likely to enhance Bharti Airtel's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation in the range of 8,000-9,500 crore and VIL about 7,000-8,500 crore.

Goldman Sachs estimates VIL's revenues could be about 22 per cent higher, assuming a subsequent hike even for postpaid, compared to 11,146 crore that company reported in the second quarter of current financial year.

"For Bharti Airtel, assuming the announced tariff details, revenues could potentially be 24/12 per cent higher for wireless/consolidated," Goldman Sachs said.

Bank of America Merrill-Lynch said Jio may raise prices by 40 per cent only on the select packs but still it may continue to be cheaper than its competitors.

"We think the incremental 300 per cent benefit which Jio is talking about is by offering more data allowances. In our view, it incrementally doesn't entice users much beyond 1.5 GB. Even after these hikes, we believe Jio will continue to be 15-20 per cent cheaper than the incumbent operators," Bank of America Merrill Lynch said.

Emkay Global said content offering of telecom operators will play important role in retention of subscribers if data consumption pattern is not impacted by tariff hikes.

From December 3, customers of these two companies will have to shell out a minimum of 49 to make calls, access the internet on mobile and stay connected for four weeks.

Telecom companies' move to raise mobile tariff follows the Supreme Court judgment, on October 24 this year, upholding the government's method of calculating revenue share that it should get from earnings of service providers.

Vodafone Idea last month reported a consolidated loss of 50,921 crore -- the highest ever loss posted by any Indian corporate -- for the September quarter on account of liability arising out of the Supreme Court's order.

The company has estimated liability of 44,150 crore post the apex court order, and made provisioning of 25,680 crore in the second quarter this fiscal.

Vodafone Idea which is reeling under massive debt of around 1.17 lakh crore had earlier cited acute financial stress on the company behind the decision to raise mobile call and data charges.

Bharti Airtel has posted a staggering 23,045 crore net loss for the second quarter ended September 30, due to provisioning of 28,450 crore in the aftermath of the SC ruling on statutory dues.

According to government data, the liabilities in the case of Bharti Airtel add up to nearly 35,586 crore, of which 21,682 crore is licence fee and another 13,904.01 crore is the SUC dues (excluding the dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices).

The government is currently not considering any proposal on waiver of penalties and interest on outstanding licence fee based on adjusted gross revenue (AGR), or on extending the timelines for telecom companies to pay up their statutory dues.

Credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service said adjusted gross revenue dues on Bharti Airtel are credit negative for the telecom operator despite a two-year moratorium given by the government on spectrum payment and the firm's plan to raise mobile call and data charges.

The credit rating agency said that in case Bharti Airtel is required to make a payment of 34,260 crore immediately and in full, the debt level of the company will rise 25 per cent if the company raises entire money to make payment through debt instruments.


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