Home / Industry / Telecom /  Airtel offers free data, calls for 4G switch to counter Reliance Jio

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Ltd Tuesday offered free calls and data to anyone switching to its network, in an attempt to counter free services from Reliance Jio, available until 31 March. Customers can opt for the Airtel offer from 4 January to 28 February.

“The 12 months offer is available to any customer with a 4G mobile handset that is currently not on the Airtel network. Any customer, including existing Airtel customers, upgrading to a new 4G handset can also avail this offer," Airtel said in a statement.

The data offer will be available to all prepaid customers choosing Airtel’s Rs345 unlimited calling pack. The pack will now offer 3GB data in addition to free calling and 1GB data already promised earlier and stands valid for a period of 28 days. Customers will be required to recharge the unlimited calling pack every month.

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For postpaid customers, the offer of 3GB monthly free data is only available for customers on MyPlan Infinity Plans, which start from Rs549. They will get free 3GB data every month until 31 December 2017. It can be availed of within 30 days of upgrading to Airtel 4G or purchasing a new 4G handset.

“We are inviting customers to experience 4G through the year on India’s fastest network. We are seeing increasing penetration of 4G handsets across the country and believe that this attractive offer will provide an opportunity to more and more customers to enjoy high speed broadband on their devices with Airtel," said Ajai Puri, director, market operations at Bharti Airtel.

After free calling launched last month by Airtel, the company has now launched additional data benefits. To be sure, Reliance Jio is offering free voice and data to all Jio customers until 31 March 2017.

The telecom industry is witnessing a heated battle for market share and aggressive bundling and rolling out of lucrative offers to counter the Jio effect.

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“The telecom companies are fighting it out and trying to survive as they indulge in the heat of competition," said Dharmesh Kant, head of retail research at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd.

“Reliance Jio was already giving it for free, Airtel has also now offered offers but beyond a point this will stop and sense will prevail as voice ARPUs (average revenue per user) are declining and data is now being offered for free. The burden of expenses will catch up soon. Of course the customers benefit out of this. It looks like 2017 entirely will be a stressed year for telecom companies in terms of revenues," he said.

On 23 December, Airtel moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal against Reliance Jio’s extended free services offer. Bharti Airtel alleged the extension was wrong and beyond the stipulated 90 days allowed for promotional offers and also accused the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India of acting as a “mute spectator" in the course of events.

The company accused Reliance Jio of following predatory pricing by offering services for free.

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