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Bharti, Hutch hike rates

Press Trust of India     August 14, 2007

After raising STD call rates, Bharti Airtel and Hutch (now Vodafone Essar) have now quietly increased local charges within their own network to Rs 1.20 per minute for prepaid customers from Rs 1 a minute.

The new call charges, which come into effect from Monday, will be for prepaid customers for Airtel-to-Airtel and Hutch-to-Hutch calls, officials of both the companies said.

The two operators have also increased local SMS rates to Rs 1.20 per message for all users, both prepaid and postpaid, from Re 1 earlier.

While even minuscule reduction in rates are announced with fanfare, the companies refrained from publicising the tariff hike and brought out customary notices by way of small advertisements tucked inside newspaper pages.

Other operators like Idea, MTNL, BSNL, Reliance and Tata could also respond to the hike in local call rates after the revision by two of the country's largest service providers.

Officials said with subscriber base increasing, it is difficult to maintain networks to support huge additions of new users without raising tariffs. Since prepaid users constitute about 80 per cent of both the operators' customer base it is more useful to tinker with prepaid rates, they said justifying the tariff increase.

Hutch-Essar and Bharti Airtel had early this month, in a similar fashion, increased STD rates.

While prepaid users of Hutch will pay Rs 2.65 from Rs 2.40 previously for STD to all other networks, Bharti Airtel's prepaid and postpaid mobile customers in Delhi region would pay STD rates of Rs 2.65 and Rs 2.40 a minute respectively from Rs 2 earlier.

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