Where's customer voice as India mobile tariffs climb

To remain competitive and profitable, Indian mobile operators are gradually increasing tariff rates as lowering prices and growing subscriber base are no longer deemed beneficial tactics. But what does that mean for customers?

On a global scale, India still has one of the lowest mobile tariff rates in the world. One would easily think this has been offset by large mobile subscriber base in India, but not so.

What has plagued Indian mobile telecom operators is the cancelation of some licenses within India, following the 2G spectrum scandal . This has resulted in many players leaving the lucrative Indian market altogether, according to TechGig.com. Furthermore, the cost of operating licenses within the 2G spectrum has gone up, in addition to providing such services.

To remain competitive amid increasing costs and imposed regulations coming into effect in India, such as free roaming by October 2013 , mobile operators such as Reliance Communications have already raised calling prices by 20 to 30 percent across the country. Furthermore, industry leader Bharti Airtel no longer offers promotional incentives upon activation of a SIM card.

Today, Indian mobile operators are concentrating more on both call and data usage instead of increasing their subscriber base.

This change in strategy will effect India consumers greatly in the months ahead as, compared to countries such as Canada or the United States, Indian mobile telecom operators don't offer long-term contracts with different packages from which to choose. In India, you don't need to be locked into a contract for 2 or 3 years, as most subscribers are on a pay-as-you-go subscription model. Even postpaid customers don't have any real advantages from switching from prepaid to postpaid, except for knowing that they don't have to worry about their credit running out.

I've had two postpaid connections in the past, one with Bharti Airtel and the other with Tata Indicom. I was both shocked and surprised at how expensive my monthly bills were as well as the lack of no discounts from having a postpaid connection.

After subscribing for postpaid connections for several months with the two operators, I terminated both and went back to a prepaid connection. Sure, I paid more with Bharti Airtel as it was a 3G connection versus Tata Indicom which was a CDMA connection, but the end result was that I was satisfied with neither in the end.

To add to the frustratiom, the entire process of switching from postpaid back to prepaid is next to impossible, as the operators' customer care representatives would attempt relentlessly to convince you from making the transition, until you finally ask to speak to their manager.

If anything, this is one area where Indian mobile operators should invest more time and money--customer care relations.

While they are very quick and effective to activate your account and make the switch to postpaid, canceling and reversing to a prepaid connection is a nightmare.

Furthermore, with number portability also available in India, if you're not happy with one Indian mobile telecom operator, you can simply switch and go to another. But this is another simple request switch in itself which can prove a headache. Hence, most Indian subscribers just choose to be content with what they have and don't have a real voice to be heard.