Reliance Jio effect: Airtel, Idea launch data, free calls tariff plan

In response to Reliance Jio offers, Airtel announces free voice calls plus 300 MB of 4G data at Rs145; Idea launches similar pack at Rs148


Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

New Delhi: In what could be seen as a strategic pricing cut to counter Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s offers, Bharti Airtel on Thursday announced free voice calls across India bundled with 300 MB of 4G data at Rs145. The offer is available for prepaid customers and valid for Airtel-to-Airtel calls.

Idea Cellular Ltd too launched a similar offer—bundling free calls on its own network and 300 MB 4G data—at Rs148 for prepaid customers.

The lowest tariff plan announced by Reliance Jio costs Rs149, and offers free calls and 300 MB data bundled together.

Bharti Airtel introduced another bundled tariff plan for its 4G users at Rs345, with free calls and 1GB data. These prices are for Delhi circle, the company said.

All customers without 4G device will only get 50 MB and free voice calls.

“The pack will offer 50 MB data (in addition to free Airtel-to-Airtel calls across India) to customers with basic mobile phones, which are ideally suited for web surfing and accessing light social media applications. The pack has a validity of 28 days and is available to customers across India,” Airtel said in a statement.

Also read: Call drops: Trai to once again test compliance by telcos, including Reliance Jio

The offer looks like an attempt to retain subscriber base and market share which analysts predict could be hurt because of Reliance Jio’s free offers valid till 31 March 2017.

“This is another initiative from us to bring innovative bundle offers to our customers in line with our endeavour to provide the great value backed by a superior network experience,” said Ajai Puri, director marketing operations at Bharti Airtel.

Meanwhile, announcing its data-and-free calls pack to counter Reliance Jio, Idea Cellular said, “Upon recharging with Rs148, Idea customers will be able to make free Local and STD Idea-to-Idea calls across India and get 50MB of data. Customers with 4G handsets will get 300 MB of data in addition to voice benefit.” The telecom firm also has an expensive pack at Rs348 that gives 1 BG 4G data with free Idea to Idea calls.

Such pricing strategies, courtesy Reliance Jio’s aggressive stance, signal a weakening revenue growth for telecom firms in the last two quarters of the current fiscal, say analysts.

Bharti Airtel has 4G presence in 21 of the 22 circles. Vodafone India currently has 4G presence in nine out of 22 circles and recently said it would expand to 17 circles by the end of March 2017. Last month, Idea Cellular Ltd said it will have 20 circles with 4G network by March 2017.

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