In an attempt to cope with Reliance Jio’s onslaught, market leader Bharti Airtel has refreshed its Rs 149 prepaid plan last week to offer 2 GB of 3G/4G data per day, twice the amount it offered earlier. The pack, which offers data at Rs 2.66 per GB, also offers free voice calls and 100 SMSes per day, increasingly the industry standard after Jio came in.
In comparison, Jio’s Rs 149 plan, also valid for 28 days, offers 1.5 GB of 4G data per day or Rs 3.55 per GB. Vodafone India too has a Rs 149 prepaid plan offering the same benefits as Jio. Bharti has also launched a Rs 558 prepaid plan in various circles offering 3 GB per day for 82 days or data at Rs 2.27 per GB. On the other hand, Vodafone India has a Rs 511 pack that offers 2 GB daily data for 84 days, or Rs 3.04 per GB.
Its Rs 569 plan offers 3 GB of daily data at a price of Rs 2.26 per GB, the same as Bharti. This makes both Bharti and Vodafone’s new offerings better than Jio’s Rs 299 pack (for 28 days) that offers 3GB per day at a rate of Rs 3.56 per GB. As a result of this increased competition, the industry revenues that fell to Rs 1.11 lakh crore in FY18 — the second consecutive year of a fall, from Rs 1.48 lakh crore in FY16 — are likely to fall again in FY19 (see graphic).
So far, with smaller operators like Aircel, Tata Teleservices and Telenor India shutting shop, the incumbent operators have managed to increase their subscriber numbers. Jio, though, has seen the largest increase. Between October 2017 and March 2018, Jio gained 40.6 million subscribers, taking its total count to 186.6 million. Bharti subscribers rose 19 million to reach 304.2 million, Vodafone rose 14.4 million to reach 222.7 million and Idea rose 20.2 million to reach 211.2 million.