Potential 15-17% Telecom Tariff Hike Post-Election: Analysts' Report

Telecom operators in India might raise prices by 15-17% after the upcoming elections, according to a report by Antique Stock Broking

Rashi Grover
New Update
A graph showing a hike in certain values.

An image showing a rise in tarrif in telecommunucations sector.

Indian telecom users may face a significant increase in their mobile bills in the coming months. A recent report by Antique Stock Broking predicts an imminent tariff hike of 15-17% across the telecom sector, with the implementation potentially happening after the upcoming general elections scheduled for April-May 2024. Telecom operators in India have been grappling with several financial challenges in recent years. Here are some facts to illustrate the situation:


High Debt Burden: According to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the telecom industry's total debt burden stood at a staggering ₹14.76 lakh crore (US$ 176 billion) as of March 2023. The Supreme Court's AGR ruling in 2020 further added to this burden, with estimated liabilities of over ₹1 lakh crore (US$ 12 billion) for some operators.

Fierce Competition: India boasts the world's second-largest telecom subscriber base with over 1.2 billion users. 

This intense market share competition, particularly driven by Reliance Jio's disruptive entry in 2016, has led to aggressive price wars. Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) in India remains one of the lowest globally.


Rising Operational Costs: The rollout of 5G technology requires significant investments in infrastructure, spectrum acquisition, and core network upgrades. Estimates suggest that 5G deployment could cost Indian telecom operators anywhere between ₹1.3 lakh crore (US$ 15.5 billion) and ₹2.5 lakh crore (US$ 29.9 billion).

Analyst Predictions and Potential Beneficiaries:

The Antique Stock Broking report suggests that the anticipated tariff hike is a way for telecom operators to improve their financial health and invest in network upgrades. The report also identifies Bharti Airtel, with its industry-leading ARPU of ₹208 (US$ 2.5) as of December 2023, as a potential major beneficiary of the price increase.


While a price rise may help telecom operators overcome financial hurdles and invest in better infrastructure, it could also burden consumers. Here are some additional facts to consider:

Data Consumption on the Rise: India's average monthly data consumption per user has skyrocketed in recent years, reaching over 19 GB as of December 2023. 

This increasing reliance on data-driven services makes tariff hikes a concern for many users, particularly those on budget-friendly plans.


Impact on Rural Users: While urban users might be able to absorb some price increases, those in rural areas who are more price-sensitive could be disproportionately affected. Ensuring affordability and access to essential communication services in rural India remains a challenge.

The exact timing and details of the potential tariff hike remain unclear. Several factors could influence the decision, including:

Market Response: If consumers react negatively to the announced price increase, telecom operators might need to re-evaluate the implementation or consider alternative strategies like offering differentiated data packs or value-added services.


Regulatory Environment: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) plays a crucial role in regulating tariffs in the telecom sector. TRAI's stance on the proposed hike and any potential interventions, such as setting price floors or caps, will be significant.

 Competitive Landscape: The actions of rival telecom operators in response to the potential price hike will also influence the overall impact on consumers. Will other operators follow suit, or will some try to capture market share by keeping prices competitive?

Indian telecom users are now in a wait-and-see situation.  While the potential tariff hike remains just that – a possibility – it highlights the ongoing financial challenges faced by the telecom sector and the need for a sustainable balance between operator viability and consumer affordability. 

As the situation unfolds, it will be crucial for users to stay informed about any official announcements regarding tariff revisions and explore potential options if price increases are implemented.