India’s Mobile Data Price Hike Sparks User Outrage and Shift Towards BSNL

5G tarrif prices increase
Preeti Bali / 6:17 am / July 9, 2024

India’s three leading telecom operators – Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea – have simultaneously implemented a significant price increase on their data plans. This move has sparked outrage among a massive user base accustomed to lower costs. Social media platform X (formerly Twitter) has become a battleground for user frustration, with many expressing their discontent with the higher costs. Jio users, hit particularly hard by the changes, have initiated the “#JioBoycott” trend, which has garnered over 40,000 posts.

Loss of “Unlimited 5G” Adds Fuel to the Fire

Further fueling user anger is the removal of “unlimited 5G” from certain affordable plans by both Jio and Airtel. This leaves mobile data users who previously enjoyed uncapped usage within their plan limits high and dry, despite paying a higher price.

BSNL Emerges as a Contender with Lower Prices

Coinciding with the “#JioBoycott” trend is the rise of “#BSNLkigharwapsi” (BSNL’s Comeback), showcasing a growing preference for the state-owned telecom company BSNL. This trend, with over 45,000 posts on X, highlights the appeal of BSNL’s significantly cheaper data plans compared to the other three providers. Users seem willing to forego 5G connectivity for the cost savings offered by BSNL. A prime example: BSNL’s plan offering 2GB of daily data for a 30-day period costs only Rs 199 (UP West Circle), while Airtel and Jio charge Rs 379 and Rs 349 respectively for the same amount of data over similar durations.

Price Hike Reaches Annual Plans

The price increase implemented by Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea extends to both prepaid and postpaid plans, with some revisions reaching Rs 600. The most significant impact falls on annual recharge plans offered by Airtel and Jio, where a plan previously priced at Rs 2,999 now costs Rs 3,599.

Telecom Companies Justify Move for Network Investment

All three companies have defended the price hike, claiming it’s necessary to maintain a healthy average revenue per user (ARPU). While the new pricing structure came into effect on July 3rd for Airtel and Jio, Vodafone Idea users have seen the changes reflected from July 4th onwards. In its statement, Airtel explained the price hike as a means to “enable the substantial investments required in network technology and spectrum and offer a modest return on capital.”

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