Airtel, Vodafone’s complicated bid to match Reliance Jio 4G data plans

In the face of stiff competition from Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone unveil new data plans for prepaid users, but it isn’t as simple as it seems


Reliance Jio subscribers will have the option of continuing with one of the new prepaid tariff plans, or additionally sign up for the Jio Prime membership by paying a one-time subscription fee of Rs99. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
Reliance Jio subscribers will have the option of continuing with one of the new prepaid tariff plans, or additionally sign up for the Jio Prime membership by paying a one-time subscription fee of Rs99. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Bharti Ltd Airtel and Vodafone India Ltd’s battle with Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd is all set to take a new twist. On 31 March, the free trial service period for Jio’s services comes to an end. Jio subscribers will have the option of continuing with one of the new prepaid tariff plans, or additionally sign up for the Jio Prime membership by paying a one-time subscription fee of Rs99. If you do sign up for Prime, the same tariff plans offer more data and even extended validity, than they would otherwise.

But that isn’t only what has Airtel and Vodafone quite worried. Take a look at Jio’s Rs303 prepaid plan—Prime members will be able to use 1GB of 4G data every day for 28 days, which means a total of 28GB data during the validity period. Then there is the Rs499 plan, where Prime members will get 2GB of 4G data bundled every day, which means they get a total of 56GB of data over the 28-day validity period.

Also read: Reliance Jio Prime 4G data plans: What you need to know

Before Jio’s announcement, Airtel, for example, was offering 2.5GB 3G/4G data for Rs359 (28-day validity), Idea Cellular Ltd was offering 3.5GB data for Rs455 (28-day validity) and Vodafone had a plan for Rs365 (28-day validity) which offered 6GB data to 4G users and 2.5GB data to 3G users.

Now, things might be changing, because all three operators are now launching new prepaid tariff plans, albeit silently in some cases.

Airtel now has the Rs345 recharge option (28-day validity), which apart from unlimited local and national calls, also has 1GB daily 3G/4G data usage allowance. This makes it a total bundle of 28GB data over the validity period. However, there is a catch. As a user, you’ll only be getting 500MB every day during the day, and the rest 500MB will be available between the slightly unearthly hours of 12am-6am. The other condition is that you will need to apply this recharge to your Airtel prepaid connection before 31 March. This recharge option is available on Airtel’s website. Additionally, you’ll be able to take advantage of these rates for the next 11 recharges as well.

Vodafone’s new plans are a tad mysterious. As a part of the ‘Welcome Back Offers’, Vodafone is offering two new plans. The first is priced at Rs342 (28-day validity) and it bundles 28GB data—1GB per day, but with no conditions such as the ones Airtel has on its Rs345 plan. The second is the Rs346 plan, which bundles 300 minutes of local and national calls per day, as well as total 10GB data for the 28-day validity period. However, we have not been able to find this plan on the Vodafone website, Vodafone’s app or even wallet services such as Paytm. Some users are reporting on Twitter that Vodafone is not offering this to all users, but only to select prepaid users.

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