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AIRTEL gives in, offers FREE 4G data for 90 days to counter Reliance Jio

airtel-4g-free-offerAfter crying wolf over Reliance Jio’s free offerings, rival Bharti Airtel has decided that if you can’t beat it, it’s better to join in.

The company said it has decided to offer free 4G data to all its 4G customers for 90 days if they subscribe to its ‘rate cutter’ pack for data, starting from Delhi circle.

The rate cutter pack for data was announced a month ago, and cuts the price of LTE from around Rs 100-250 per GB to just Rs 51 per GB. The rate cutter recharge — priced around Rs 1,500 — has a validity of one year.

In other words, the new 90-day-free-data offer is valid only for those customers who are opting for the rate cutter pack of Rs 1,495.

At present, the scheme has been rolled out in Delhi, Airtel’s most lucrative circle, while other circles will get the option in coming days.

“Customers with 4G handsets generally consume large amounts of data and this proposition is specifically aimed at them. With this pack these customers can stay online round the clock without having to worry about exhausting their data limits or going for frequent recharges,” said Ajai Puri, director – Operations (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel.

RELIANCE JIO EFFECT

With this, Bharti has replied to everyone who has been asking them why they are not responding to free offers from Reliance Jio.

Across India, subscribers of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are lining up outside Reliance Digital showrooms in an effort to get free SIM cards from Reliance Jio, the latest operator to join the Indian telecom industry.

Jio is offering free 4G data and voice till Dec 31.

Airtel’s offer is what some would call a desperate attempt to prevent its users from shifting their numbers to Jio.

However, it remains to be seen how effective the offer is as it still requires an upfront investment of Rs 1,495 (in Delhi). Despite difficulties in getting the SIM, Jio is offering its service totally free — something that makes it difficult for established rivals like Vodafone and Idea to match.

Until about a month ago, these companies were charging an average of Rs 225 per GB of data.

Though they have cut their tariff to about Rs 100 per GB for heavy users (10 GB or above per month) since then, they have not been able to come up with an answer to Jio’s free offer.

On January 1 next year, the Mukesh Ambani firm will migrate its free users to paid packs that are very close to what the rivals offer in terms of data charges. For example, it will charge Rs 999 for 10 GB (same as the others) and Rs 1,500 for 20 GB (which is lower than what the rivals charge.)

VODAFONE AND IDEA

Airtel’s move has increased pressure on Vodafone and Idea to come up with their own answers to the Reliance Jio’s free offer.

However, because of lower quantity of spectrum, these operators are unable to sustain the load that such offers generate. They are, therefore, likely to wait and see if Bharti’s offer finds many takers.

All three big operators are likely to report a decline in their data traffic when they come up with their quarterly performance update next month.
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