India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Sunday said that it would offer more 3G and 4G data to its existing packs, thus resulting into benefits on these packs increasing by up to 67 per cent. Airtel’s move comes only two days after the Aditya Birla group company Idea Cellular revised its internet tariffs, and is pegged to be the beginning of a tariff war ahead of Reliance Jio’s launch.
Traditionally, Indian telecom companies have maintained tariffs in line with their competitors to retain customers on their own networks. The latest tariff reduction exercises are seen as the companies preparing for the imminent rollout of Jio’s services.
Under the revised Airtel data benefits, the Rs 655 4G/3G monthly recharge pack will now offer 5 GB data, compared with 3 GB data it offered earlier. The Rs 455 4G/3G pack now offers 3 GB, instead of 2GB. Similarly, Rs 989 4G/3G pack will offer 10 GB data as opposed to 6.5 GB earlier.
Airtel has also revised rates for its Sachet Packs with Rs 25 2G pack now offering 145MB data, instead of 100 MB. Airtel Rs 145 4G/3G pack now offers 580MB, in place of 440 MB earlier. Also, the Rs 5 one day 2G data pack benefits have been increased to 30MB.
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“These refreshed data packs will help drive consumption and boost the uptake of mobile internet in the country. Given the deepening smartphone penetration and Airtel’s roll-out of data networks across India, we believe these packs will also drive affordability and bring new users online,” said Ajai Puri, Bharti Airtel’s director — 0perations (India & South Asia).
Bharti Airtel’s Chairman Sunil Mittal was recently reported as saying that Reliance Jio’s entry into the Indian telecom sector was going to witness “massive erosion” of the tariffs, something which all telecom operators have foreseen.
In an interview with The Financial Express, Mittal had said that within the next 36 months the share of data as a percentage of mobile revenue was expected to become 50 per cent from the current 23-24 per cent but the realisation was likely to drop from the current 25 paise per MB.
In its June-quarter earnings announced on Friday, Reliance Industries Ltd said that Jio had 1.5 million test users on its network and the average consumption of data exceeded 26 GB per user per month.
Compared with the data consumption reported by Jio, Bharti Airtel’s data usage per customer reported with its March-quarter earnings was 859 MB. As of March 31, Airtel had 251.24 million subscribers, of which 58.22 million were data users.