Call it a renewed consumer connect — in their bid to retain their subscriber base, mobile operators are coming out with attractive data packages. Ahead of the Reliance Jio launch, the country’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Thursday launched a slew of data packages to entice young subscribers. With data now comprising 21.5% of its mobile revenues against 19.2% in the preceding quarter and 14.5% in the same quarter last fiscal, it makes sense for Airtel to focus on this segment. What may have further prompted it to create stickiness could be the slight increase in churn rate in July-September to 3.5% against 3.3% in the preceding quarter and 3.1% a year ago.
As per the new data plans unveiled on Thursday, Bharti Airtel will credit back 50% of data to users who use data between midnight and 6 am the next day in the prepaid segment, to be later extended to post-paid subscribers.
The plan is targeted at youngsters who spend more time on downloads during the night hours when networks are usually less utilised. Further, the company also launched a data pack where prepaid users can share their data package with four members within a family. Though this scheme was already there for post-paid users, extending it to prepaid makes sense because 94.2% of the company’s subscribers are in this segment.
The new plans is to get existing users to remain on the network and increase their usage of data with better offers, upgrade those who don’t use data and also attract newer subscribers from competitors, Srini Gopalan, director for consumer business at Bharti Airtel told FE. “It is designed to appeal to a whole spectrum of users,” Gopalan said, adding that the company started building a network for data services since the last 18 months. He said that they found only one member of the family had a data subscription while there were other members of the family who owned a smartphone but did not use data. This plan is aimed at sharing data with family members and increasing usage, he said.
For first-time smartphone users, Airtel will give out surprise gifts to consumers within its network who upgrade to a smartphone and also to those who migrate to its network from other operators with a smartphone, he said. These users will also get Rs 750 credited to their account if they bought a smartphone through its network.
In the fourth data plan, Airtel is targeting music and movie buffs. It is waiving subscription charges for unlimited song downloads through Wynk Music and providing for up to five movie downloads via Wynk Movies a month.
On the data front, Bharti during the July-September quarter reported data revenue and volume growth of 60% and 70% year-on-year, respectively, which was marginally weaker than Idea Cellular on both counts.
“This was one area where we were a tad disappointed; Bharti’s first-mover advantage on 4G LTE roll-outs has not started translating into superior data growth rates, at least as far as early readings are concerned,” Kotak Research wrote in its post-earnings analysis.