Airtel phases out postpaid plans below Rs 499, reduces data limits in some prepaid plans

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Published: May 15, 2019 3:12:33 AM

For instance, for its post-paid users, who comprise only 5% of the total user base, Bharti has decided to gradually phase out plans with monthly rentals of less than Rs 499. Overall, it will now have only four monthly rental plans — Rs 499, Rs 749, Rs 999, and Rs 1,599.

In the Rs 499 plan, users will get 75 GB data, in the Rs 749 plan, 125 GB, along with two family add-ons which include one regular SIM and one data add-on.In the Rs 499 plan, users will get 75 GB data, in the Rs 749 plan, 125 GB, along with two family add-ons which include one regular SIM and one data add-on.

Incumbent operators such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea may not be raising headline tariffs as competition from Reliance Jio continues to be tough. However, with bundled voice and data tariffs largely stabilising and Jio not coming up with any more price war, the incumbents are tweaking their tariff plans to increase their realisation.

Bharti Airtel has recently come out with a host of such tweaks, both for its prepaid and postpaid customers.

For instance, for its post-paid users, who comprise only 5% of the total user base, Bharti has decided to gradually phase out plans with monthly rentals of less than Rs 499. Overall, it will now have only four monthly rental plans — Rs 499, Rs 749, Rs 999, and Rs 1,599.

An interesting feature of the `999 plan is that it is aimed at families — three SIMs and one data SIM will be offered for the same amount. Further, a three-month free subscription of Netflix and a year of Amazon Prime will come with it. The monthly data limit is 150 GB.

Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions will come with all the four Airtel postpaid plans.

In the Rs 499 plan, users will get 75 GB data, in the Rs 749 plan, 125 GB, along with two family add-ons which include one regular SIM and one data add-on.

Bharti has scrapped its `299 plan and is in the process of gradually phasing out the `349 and `399 plans. All these plans come with data benefits and unlimited domestic voice calls. The move, while simplifying the offerings, would also help the company get better Arpu (average realisation per user).

When contacted, a Bharti spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

Similarly, in the prepaid segment comprising 95% of the subscribers, Bharti has reduced the data benefits in the `399 plan to 1 GB per day from 1.4 GB per day earlier.

The validity of 84 days remain intact. For the customers, who want 1.4 GB data per day, the company has brought in a new plan of `448, which gives 1.5 GB data per day for 82 days.

According to retailers, even Idea has revised its `398 plan in the prepaid segment which now offers 1.4 GB data daily for 70 days instead of 84 days earlier and Vodafone has reduced data to 1GB per day from 1.4 GB per day for its `399 plan.

Though Vodafone and Idea have merged since August 2018, the two brands operate distinctly. When contacted, Vodafone Idea said there has been no change in these plans.

Both Bharti and Vodafone Idea embarked on Arpu-enhancing measures since October 2018 by making a minimum monthly recharge of `35 for prepaid plans compulsory.

Bharti lost some 48 million users as a result of it in the October-December period and while it did not disclose its subscriber loss in the January-March quarter, estimates are that it would be in the similar range.

Vodafone Idea removed some 35 million users in Q3 and 53 million in Q4. But both saw their Arpu improving during the period. Bharti did not disclose its Arpu during Q4 but it is estimated to have gone up to around `120 from `104 in the preceding quarter, while Vodafone Idea’s Arpu during Q4 jumped to `104 from `89 in the preceding quarter.

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