At the opening, Sunil Bharti Mittal had announced that Airtel was raising prices. And I was the lead on the panel of tariff regulation on the second day. I was ready for fireworks, but it was sedate. Only spark was on why roaming prices were not regulated.
I first talked about where prices levels were: South Asia with the lowest prices for voice (Bangladesh was the cheapest, though many Indians insist they are). Not bad on data prices, especially over mobile, but of course there is the little problem of speed actually delivered versus promised. Our research shows we may be getting less value for money if actual performance is considered.
Then I went on to discuss the TRE results, where the Indian regulator was getting the credit for the low prices, despite Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka also giving low prices. The cause was forbearance and the certainty it offered.
Short message was that India had high levels of competition; forbearance had worked; no reason to reverse course now.
For those with less competition, we recommend banded forbearance.