It has started informing users of a special scheme under which users can get 6 GB of 3G or 4G data for just Rs 1,498 and subsequently at Rs 51 per GB.
The offer is the cheapest 3G and 4G pricing from any telecom company in India other than BSNL, which offers 10 GB at 550 and unlimited access at about Rs 1100. However, BSNL operators only 3G networks and has far fewer towers than its private competitors.
Unlike Reliance Jio, which offers its data only on 4G devices, these companies are offering theirs on 3G as well as 4G handsets and dongles.
The launch of the scheme has left Vodafone and Reliance Communications as the only ones among the top 5 Indian mobile operators that still charge Rs 100-250 per gigabyte.
Airtel was forced to go for the scheme after usage of its data network plummeted as a result of free services launched by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio.
Reliance Jio started giving a ‘preview offer’ to its new subscribers that offered free unlimited 4G data and calls till the company launched.
The scheme has since been renamed Welcome Offer and will run till Dec 31 this year.
The scheme has hit incumbent telecom operators such as Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel as subscribers began to migrate to Jio’s network in large numbers to get cheap data.
However, Airtel and Idea seem to have figured that they may be able to prevent a large-scale migration by offering rates that are even cheaper than Jio’s.
For example, the Mukesh Ambani firm offers only 4 GB of data for Rs 499, implying Rs 125 per GB.
Under Idea and Airtel’s schemes, you can get 1 GB at just Rs 51 if you pay a fixed amount as rental for the scheme.
In case of Bharti, the fixed rental comes to Rs 1,450 per year, or about Rs 130 per month.
In case of Idea, it comes to just Rs 100 per month.
The Aditya Birla Group owned company is presently offering the service only in select circles like Kerala, but is expected to roll it out pan-India to withstand competition from the new entrant.
RJio, meanwhile, is reported to be signing on between 0.5-1.0 million subscribers on its network per day.
After going for a ‘queue scheme’ for new subscribers, the company has recently started an ‘eKYC’ system under which new customers are onboarded immediately.