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Telcos offer more data for same price in race to grab new customers

business Updated: Oct 20, 2016 15:23 IST
Anirban Ghoshal
Telco

If you are planning to take a new data connection, then this would be the right time as all telecom service providers such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are offering huge discounts on data as the industry is engulfed in a data price war.(AFP)

If you are planning to take a new data connection, then this would be the right time as all telecom service providers such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are offering huge discounts on data as the industry is engulfed in a data price war.

Although companies deny the fact that there is a price discount, all of them are offering more data for the same price which works out in your favour.

The data price war started from September, 2016 when Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani commercially launched Reliance Jio Infocomm’s service that is currently providing free calls and data till the end of this year.

The country last saw a price war in 2009-2010 after new licenses were given to new telecom service providers in 2008.

However, with the launch of Jio’s promotional data offers, operators like Airtel and Vodafone have been forced to offer similar plans and also offer more data for its prepaid consumers.

On Wednesday, Airtel put out another promotional offer for prepaid customers under which the company was offering 10 GB of data for Rs 259. This essentially means that a customer will get 1GB of data without day or night usage differential just for Rs 25.90.

It had previously slashed its internet prepaid tarrifs to 80 per cent and over 150 per cent for its corporate customers, bringing down the former to as low as Rs 51/GB and latter to Rs 99.5/GB.

With its current offering, consumers can spend Rs 1,498 for 1GB 3G/4G data and post exhaustion, customers can enjoy 1GB 3G/4G for just Rs 51. For a year long period, you get 12 GB 3G/4G of data at Rs 2110 for 12 months (13 packs of 1 GB each), if you are a Airtel customer. (Validity for 1st GB data is 28 days).

Meanwhile, Vodafone is giving 1GB data (3G/4G) for Rs 297 with validity for 28 days. This sums up to Rs 3,861 for 13 GB of data for 12 months.

Airtel is also offering a free 9GB 4G data for new 4G handset consumers. Once a consumer recharges with Rs 249, he gets 1 GB 4G data and later the company adds 9 GB to it via its My Airtel app.

Vodafone, which recently launched Flex plans - an easy way of recharging for prepaid consumers for voice, data and rate cutters, also has a similar 10 GB offer.

BSNL is also not holding back and is providing 1GB (3G data) at Rs 198. This means that you will need to spend at around Rs 2574 for 13 GB for a year. (3G data rates)

Aditya Birla group-owned Idea is also providing 1GB (3G) at Rs 249 for 28 days. This means that the consumer will end up spending Rs 3,237 for 13 GB for a year.

However, telcos and experts claim that all these moves have two objectives in mind.

“While one is a short-term game to protect consumers and compete with other telcos, the longer game plan is to expand the data market which is very small right now,” a top executive from a telco, told HT adding that the company had added more subscribers after the new data offers were launched.

Analysts believe that the erosion in prices will definitely hurt pockets of telcos but they will make it up when they reach volumes.

“There is no reason to believe that data market in India will not expand. It is considerably smaller than most countries and we are just seeing the beginning of this market,” a top telecom expert said.

Airtel has the maximum number of subscribers followed by Vodafone and Idea. Reliance Jio has recently added around 5 million customers keeping in mind the download figures of the app in Google Play Store. The company is yet to share any details.

Jio from January next year will start offering unlimited calls and 300 MB of day data and unlimited night data at Rs 149 for both prepaid and postpaid customers.

While the prepaid validity will be 28 days with the inclusion of taxes, the postpaid customer has to pay Rs 149 + taxes for the same.