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RCom’s free internet offer: rivals may also cut tariffs

business Updated: Feb 11, 2015 22:55 IST
M Rajendran
M Rajendran
Hindustan Times
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Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications and social networking giant Facebook’s plan to provide free data services to consumers is set to trigger similar offers from other operators and bring down data prices, industry experts said.

RCom and Facebook on Tuesday announced a tie-up to offer data services, which will enable every consumer even with a basic phone and an internet connection, to get free data from 33 popular websites for lifetime, in their local languages, besides free Facebook access.

“It will certainly have an impact on the data tariff, though marginal, but nevertheless an impact,” said Mahesh Uppal, director, Com First, a telecom industry analyst firm.

Bharti Airtel also has a tie-up with Google offering data services, but it is not free.

Analysts said RCom’s performance and its response in the market will also help companies such as Reliance Jio, which is a part of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd and has announced to launch commercial 4G telecom service in 2015.

“RJio services are expected to be heavily based on high-speed data-deliverance model and they will obviously be looking at it closely,” said Romal Shetty, partner, consultancy firm KPMG

But Shetty feels that the RCom-Facebook tie-up has definitely set a trend, and India will see more of such ventures.

However, operators were not willing to comment on the subject. The two leading telecom operators — Airtel and Vodafone — directed the query to Cellular Operators Association of India.

“It is best decided by the individual operator that how will they benefit the customers... I cannot comment on the tie-up since RCom is not a COAI member,” said Rajan Mathews, director general, COAI. While COAI has been championing net neutrality, Mathews said it does not oppose differential tariff.

“Once the customer experiences the benefits of data browsing, they will be willing to pay… But, they have to be initiated to use the service first,” said NK Goyal, telecom analyst with Communication, Multimedia Application and Infrastucture Association of India.