India's Bharti Airtel raises basic tariffs by nearly 57% in seven regions

A man walks across a board showing the logo of Airtel at the ongoing India Mobile Congress 2022, at Pragati Maidan, in New Delhi

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Bharti Airtel, India's No. 2 telecom carrier by subscribers, has introduced a new entry level plan at 155 Indian rupees ($1.90) in seven regions, the company's spokesperson said on Tuesday, effectively raising basic tariffs by nearly 57%.

The new plan was introduced in regions including the states of Karnataka, Bihar and Rajasthan, after discontinuing the existing tariffs of 99 rupees, the spokesperson added.

The company had late last year introduced the new plan on a trial basis in the states of Odisha and Haryana.

Telecom firms were widely expected to hike tariffs to shore up revenues after having spent billions of dollars in the country's 5G auction last year.

Airtel's average revenue per user (ARPU), a key performance indicator for telecom firms, was 190 rupees in the September-quarter, a 3.8% sequential rise and a roughly 24% year-on-year increase.

The ARPU needed to be at 200 rupees and ultimately at 300 rupees for a financially healthy business model, Airtel said in November 2021, when it last raised tariffs.

Larger rival Reliance Jio, the telecom arm of billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries, had ARPU at 177.2 rupees in the September quarter which rose slightly to 178.2 rupees in the December quarter.

Jio, which disrupted the industry with cut-price rates in 2016, has not yet raised tariffs in over a year.

Airtel is scheduled to report its third-quarter results on Feb. 7.

($1 = 81.5730 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Dimpal Gulwani and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)