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Idea plans to cut discounts on voice, data tariffs

Idea Cellular has said that discounts and freebies on voice and data tariffs will be reduced in the coming months, the statement coming just weeks ahead of the spectrum auctions slated for late next month.
The country's third-biggest mobile operator, controlled by the Aditya Birla group, also expects a spurt in internet subscribers at a time when data becomes crucial for revenues and profitability.
"Currently, 20% of our 150-million subscribers use internet. With a strong focus on data, we expect half of our subscribers to use the internet in the next three years," Sashi Shankar, chief marketing officer for Idea Cellular, told TOI here. Idea Cellular said its subscriber base is likely to go up by 10-12% between now and financial year 2017-18 and added that much of this growth will come from low-teledensity, smaller markets.
Top telecom companies such as Airtel and Vodafone have also reduced discounts over the last few months, though none of the operators have made any changes to the headline tariffs. Headline or base tariffs are the maximum call or service rates that a telecom operator can charge from its customers but normally companies charge less than these rates.
Asked whether Idea Cellular plans to increase headline tariffs to cover up for the huge investments the company is making for network expansion and spectrum acquisition, Shankar said there are no such plans currently. "It is a very competitive market and we may not play with headline tariffs."
Shankar said that data revenues are growing at a break-neck speed for the company and this will contribute substantially to its revenues in the coming years. "Data currently contributes 15% to our revenues and this will grow to at least 30% by fiscal 2017-18."

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