The telecom regulator has not received any communication regarding the setting up of a floor price on voice or data services either from the department of telecommunications or the government panel looking into the revival of the sector.
“We have not received any reference," Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman R.S. Sharma told reporters on Friday.
At present, mobile tariffs are under forbearance, which means operators have a free hand in fixing rates—they only have to report tariff plans to Trai within seven days of the launch.
If a floor price is set, free services could be passé.
In 2017, after Reliance Jio entered the telecom space with free data and voice tariffs, existing telcos had approached the regulator to consider setting up a floor price as their revenue streams started shrinking. Back then, Trai had said a floor price “was not a workable idea" and, subsequently, operators, too, were in agreement.
Sharma’s statement comes at a time when the sector is reeling under severe financial stress. The Centre has set up a committee to look into relief measures, such as reduction of levies and a moratorium on spectrum fees.
This panel will also examine the aspect of minimum charge (floor tariff) for voice and data services to ensure that the financial health of the sector remains robust and viable, Mint had reported on 29 October.
Vodafone Idea Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd have reported record losses for the September quarter, ravaged by a Supreme Court verdict that upheld the government’s broader definition of revenue, based on which it calculates the licence fees of telecom operators.
Vodafone Idea’s loss for the September quarter was at ₹50,922 crore—the highest in India’s corporate history—as it set aside money to pay dues to the government following the court order. The loss is roughly five times the telecom operator’s consolidated revenue.
Airtel, too, reported its highest quarterly loss in 14 years, amid a brutal price war unleashed by Jio, which has reshaped India’s telecom market. The New Delhi-based operator swung to a ₹23,045 crore loss in the quarter ended 30 September from a profit of ₹118 crore in the year earlier.