After postpaid, prepaid users get another data sweetener
Continuing with its offensive on the tariff front ahead of the launch of Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel on Monday once again cut data prices for its prepaid users by up to 32% with an eye on retaining its customers as well as incentivise them to increase usage.
This is the second time within a little more than a month’s time that Bharti has cut data tariffs for prepaid users.
For its postpaid users, earlier this month it had come out with a bundled data plan wherein voice calls were made free. While data prices for prepaid users in the past month or so have been slashed by all the three big incumbents — Bharti, Vodafone and Idea Cellular — bundled data plans with free voice calling have been introduced so far by Bharti and Vodafone.
The new data pack for prepaid users — who comprise about 95% of its total user base of 250 million subscribers — announced on Monday seeks a minimum commitment from users and provide subsequent recharges at very nominal rates.
Further, they provide a carry-forward facility in case the data is not consumed within a month’s validity period.
To avail the new benefit, Bharti’s prepaid customers will have to pay R1,498 for a recharge, which gets them 1 GB of 3G/4G data valid for 28 days. After the 1 GB data limit is exhausted, the customers can get 1 GB 3G/4G recharges for just Rs 51 over a period of 12 months, and there is no limit on the number of recharges during the period.
At present, the company offers 1 GB of 3G/4G data for R259 valid for 28 days. In this there is no carry-forward, meaning if the data is not consumed within the stipulated period, it will not count in the balance after a recharge.
The initial subscription fee may seem costlier, but for a subscriber consuming 1 GB data every month, the pack would translate to about R2,110 for a 12-month period, compared with R3,108 in the older scheme.
Further, subscribers get to benefit more because of higher number of recharges.
Another variant being offered by the company is of a lower denomination of R748. Under this, customers will get 1 GB of 3G/4G data for R99 over a period of six months.
“These prepaid packs are live in Delhi and will get launched across circles by August 31, 2016,” a company statement said.
“With these innovative packs, we are redefining the value proposition on our data packs and allowing our customers get a lot more within the same budget,” said Ajai Puri, Bharti Airtel director, operations (India and South Asia).
In July Bharti had cut data prices in the prepaid segment for the first time by starting to offer up to 67% more bandwidth in existing 3G/4G schemes, which was followed by Idea Cellular and Vodafone India.
Beginning August, for postpaid users it made voice calling free even in roaming under a new plan for R1,199 that also included 1 GB of 3G/4G data. This scheme was followed days later by Vodafone in different denominations.
While the rate of growth of data consumption is slowing down for operators, the current round of price cuts is seen by analysts as measures by incumbents to hold on to their customers as Reliance Jio plans to enter the market in a couple of months.
The company has already started trial runs by giving free connections and services to consumers and has notched up a subscriber base of 1.5 million. The average data consumption on Jio’s network is of 26 GB per month while voice usage is of over 355 minutes.