Idea rules out tariff hikes for now

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Idea

Mumbai, Sept 25: The third largest GSM player Idea Cellular ruled out any immediate hike in tariffs, saying it keeps revising its tariffs on a circle to circle basis.

"We are not looking at any immediate tariff revision. We keep revising our tariff plans on circle to circle basis frequently," Idea's chief marketing officer Sashi Shankar told reporters after launching its fourth 3G handset here.

The comments assume importance as analysts had described last week's 25 per cent spike in call rates by larger rival Reliance Communication as signalling an upward tariff movement for the industry.

RCom hiked call rates last Friday by a steep 25 per cent to 1.5 paise per second from 1.2 paise.

Shankar said the company has 4 million 3G users out of its 20 million data user base. The company with 115 million subscribers is the third largest mobile GSM operator.

Responding to a query, he said he did not see the number of subscribers falling any more as it has already deactivated certain numbers in July and August in the wake of directive from the DoT.

Following a DoT crackdown, the mobile operators together de-activated over 20.5 million connection last month, (which were inactive), thus registering the first-ever de-growth in the otherwise super-hot telecom space.

Meanwhile, the company today enhanced its 3G smartphone portfolio by launching a new dual-SIM phone under the label of Aurus, which is manufactured by Alcatel.

The Idea Aurus comes with an Android 2.3.6 OS, faster processor, video calling facility, 5 megapixel camera and 4GB memory card for Rs 7,190 but has an offer of benefits worth Rs 2,340 that will effectively reduce the end-user cost to Rs 5,109, Shankar said.

Explaining the rationale for the launch, Shankar said 3G is becoming an enabler in smaller towns which don't have good broadband access. Deep-rooted mobile network and availability of affordable smartphones are making acceptance and adoption of 3G services faster in small towns.

He further claimed that the Aditya Birla Group firm has been witnessing rapid growth in its 3G smartphones sales, especially in semi-urban and rural markets of Maharashtra, Gujarat, AP, Kerala and UP among others.

PTI

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