With its new tariff line-up, Bharti Airtel is now the cheapest operator by some distance for those who require 2.0 to 2.5 GB of data per day.
The latest price cut has been implemented by introducing a special top-up option for prepaid users.
The top-up recharge, priced at Rs 193, gives users 1GB of extra data per day for the entire duration of their existing unlimited pack.
However, if you are on a 28-day pack, you get only 28 GB, and if you are on an 84-day pack, you get only 84 GB.
Similarly, the 193 pack’s validity cannot be carried over. If your unlimited plan gets over after 28 days, then the validity of your 193 recharge will also get over on that day.
It is not clear whether you can get 2GB extra per day by recharging with Rs 193 again, but that is also unlikely.
The booster pack, to be found in the ‘my offers section’, is the only one of its kind in the Indian 4G market at present. Jio had experimented with similar recharges at the time of its launch.
CHEAPER THAN JIO
The new offers and plans make Airtel 4G cheaper than Jio for those using 2-2.5 GB per day.
For example, to get 2GB per day on Jio’s network, one has to go for the 299 pack which has a validity of 28 days. This pack prices data at Rs 5.34 per GB.
Similarly, to use 2.5 GB per day, one has to go for the 509 pack, which also has a validity of 28 days. This pack prices data at Rs 6.06 per GB.
In comparison, by using the new booster along with a new 90-day pack, Airtel users can get 2.4 GB per day on a single SIM at cost of just Rs 3.20 per GB — almost half of Jio’s price.
In fact, thanks to the new booster plan, Airtel is now the cheapest provider of 4G data for those using 2.0-2.5 GB of data per day. In the 1GB/day category, it is now tied with Jio to be the cheapest (see below).
Before this new plan was revealed, the cheapest 4G pack in India was Reliance Jio’s 448 scheme. It priced 1 GB at Rs 3.56.
NEW 399, 498 PLANS
Besides the above booster pack, Bharti Airtel also unveiled other packs in response to the cuts by the new operator.
The most notable are the new 399 and the 498 packs.
While the earlier 399 plan used to offer 1 GB per day for 70 days, the new one will offer it for 84 days. With this, Airtel’s benefits match those of Jio’s 399 pack more or less exactly, and both plans imply a cost of Rs 4.75 per GB.
The second new plan from Bharti is priced at Rs 498. It gives 1.4 GB per day for 90 days.
More importantly, by combining the booster plan of 193 with the new 498 pack, a person can get 2.4 GB of data per day for 90 days at a cost of Rs 691 (Rs 3.20/GB), making it the cheapest in India.
The packs are Bharti Airtel’s reaction to a new set of tariff announced by Jio earlier this month and will further increase the strain on Vodafone and Idea.
At the beginning of the month, Jio announced a 30% cut in its 4G prices with several new schemes, including the Rs 498 plan that gives 1.5 GB per day for a period of 91 days.
With the cut, Airtel has largely addressed the tariff imbalance created by the Mukesh Ambani firm, but has also opened a new front against Vodafone and Idea.
Airtel is hoping that it can gain subscribers from Vodafone and Idea between now and the time that they get finished with the ongoing merger.
Until the merger is done, Vodafone and Idea will find it difficult to compete on an equal footing with other players as their infrastructure is not tuned to carrying huge amounts of data generated by ultra-cheap schemes.
They can do the bulk of the infrastructure optimization only after the merger is approved.
Bharti’s CEO Gopal Vittal said last month he expects Vodafone and Idea to see some loss of market share in the time they take to complete the merger.
“It is tough to pull off pull off a merger of any two players, let alone two very large companies,” Vittal said after unveiling his company’s third-quarter financial numbers. He added that when Vodafone and Hutchison 3G merged in Austraila some years ago, the two companies lost 13 market share points.
The aggressive tariff cuts by Bharti Airtel, therefore, are likely to be aimed as much as Idea and Vodafone as they are at Reliance Jio.