India’s mobile services are operated through market forces of demand and supply. The government said that the three private telecom companies and one public sector player offer the lowest tariffs globally while denying “misleading claims” about mobile tariff hikes.

The Ministry of Communications released a statement on Friday after the Congress criticised the government for the recent mobile tariff hikes announced by private players. The Congress questioned the government on how telecom operators are allowed to raise tariffs without any supervision or regulation.

The rates of mobile services are under the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), and the regulations have ensured “one of the lowest costs for subscribers of mobile services in India”, the statement said, denying claims of the Congress.

To illustrate its point, it provided a comparative chart of prevailing prices in the US, Australia, the UK, Russia, and other markets.

It said that in India, unlimited voice calls and 18 GB of data are available to mobile subscribers at an average price of USD 1.89 per month, citing other markets where the rates were higher.

“With three private sector players and one public sector player, the current mobile services market operates through the market forces of demand and supply,” it said.

The statement said that from a competition point of view, mobile services were provided by three private sector licensees and one public sector licensee, which was an optimal market structure for mobile services.

“The government does not intervene in the free market decisions as the functionality is under the domain of TRAI and tariffs are under forbearance,” it said.

Telecom companies have increased the prices of mobile services after more than two years, the statement said.

While protecting the interests of subscribers, the growth of telecom industry including latest technologies such as 5G, 6G, Internet of Things etc. will require financial viability of the sector, which is “important”, it added.

“Before the last 10 years, the telecommunication sector was mired in controversies, lack of transparency and, therefore, growth of mobile services was stagnant. During the last 10 years, due to progressive policies of the government, the rates of telecommunication services, be it voice or data, have fallen exponentially,” the statement said.

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