The prepaid cell phone subscribers in J&K are in limbo as the news of hike in mobile tariffs has hogged headlines making them bound to pay more from tomorrow despite absence of the vital service of internet due to blanket ban, a bizarre situation with no justifiable answer from any quarters concerning the issue. The news of hike of mobile phone charges is a clear indication that the era of free sops and low tariffs has gone as companies like Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), Bharti Airtel Limited and Reliance Jio have hiked tariff up to 40 per cent for prepaid customers. While VIL and Bharti Airtel have decided to hike the tariffs with effect from December 3, Reliance Jio will do the same from December 6. As per reports, these three giant companies together account for over 90 per cent of India’s 1.18 billion mobile subscribers pool each enjoying market share of around 30 per cent. The hike in tariffs came after VIL, and Bharti Airtel posted record quarterly losses of Rs. 50,922 crore and Rs. 23,045 crore respectively due to an adverse Supreme Court ruling on the adjusted gross revenue (AGR). The experts in the field have predicted that this was just the beginning as cell phone tariffs need to take a bigger leap in the coming year to ensure survival with dignity. The situation in J&K is bit precarious as absence of internet on cell phones has already taken the toll with business and studies of students being affected considerably and now paying more for curtailed service will have a very negative impact on the psyche of prepaid subscribers taking things to nowhere. Though vibrant telecom sector is in the national interest but the situation in J&K due to security reasons, is very different with cell phones becoming helpless when it comes to sharing bundles of data to run internet-based apps. Therefore, the companies streaming mobiles signals should consider the plight of J&K subscribers and provide a relief especially in context with stalling of internet facility on cell phones since past over 100 days.
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