Cell fare war hots up

With Airtel slashing its roaming rates, calls to local Airtel numbers while roaming will be just 60 paise, but customers will be charged at 80 paise for each call, local as well as STD, to any other network. In the last few months, most telecom providers, led by Tata DoCoMo and Reliance Communications, have cut roaming rates. For example, Tata DoCoMo charges 2 paise per second on national roaming, while for RCom it is a flat 50 paise per minute. However, Vodafone Essar, another major player in the sector, is still to cut roaming rates. About two months after Tata DoCoMo’s 1 paise/second plan was launched and the telecom firm started clocking record number of new customers each month, most of its peers responded by offering attractive plans to retain their customers and also to attract new ones. But at the same time, sector analysts have been turning negative on the prospects of the listed telecom firms and investors have been selling these stocks. A research report by foreign broking house Macquarie noted that the recent tariff action in the telecom sector was mainly concentrated in the prepaid voice space, but it expects further negative risks to telecom companies from tariff cuts in SMS, data plans, postpaid and corporate plans and international roaming. “The last three would need mobile number portability implementation and would be particularly destructive for incumbent GSM players,’’ it noted

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