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* Bharti shares gain 5 pct, Idea gains 8.4 pct
* Speculation of voice tariff hikes lift shares
* Strong competition has prevented call tariff hikes
MUMBAI, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Shares in Indian mobile phone
network operators Bharti Airtel Ltd and Idea Cellular
Ltd surged on Tuesday on speculation that they may
soon raise their prices for voice calls, several traders said.
Both companies declined to comment on the market rumours.
India's mobile phone market, the world's second-biggest by
customers behind China, has not seen any real increase in call
prices in the last three years after a vicious price war sent
call prices tumbling in late 2009. Voice calls account for about
85 percent of revenues.
Companies including Bharti and Idea raised voice call prices
in the middle of 2011 but then had to pare them back after
losing market share to competitors.
But since then several smaller operators have either folded
or cut back operations after a Supreme Court order to revoke
licences gained in a disputed auction and market leaders such as
Bharti, Vodafone Group Plc's local unit and Idea
Cellular have long since been expected to increase
Bharti shares ended up 5 percent, their highest level since
March 5, 2012. Idea shares rose 8.4 percent to their highest
level since Feb. 4, 2008.
Shares in Reliance Communications, India's
third-biggest carrier by customers, closed 2.7 percent higher.
The company, which was the most aggressive in cutting rates
during the price war, raised call prices in some zones last
($1=54.4575 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Abhishek Vishnoi and Manoj Dharra; Writing by
Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Greg Mahlich)