BSNL, a state-owned telecom provider, has withdrawn the enormously popular Rs 449 Fiber Basic Plan with effect from today.
The plan was put in place in November last year in response to the launch of a cut-throat, Rs 399 plan by Reliance Jio, India’s largest telecom operator.
The 499 plan gave 3,300 GB of high-speed data per month at speeds of up to 30 Mbps in an effort to compete against Jio’s entry level offering of Rs 399 for 30 Mbps.
Like Jio’s plan, it also offered unlimited free voice calls within the country.
The 449 plan, restricted to new BSNL Fiber subscribers, turned out to be highly popular and was able to lure tens of thousands of new customers to BSNL’s Bharat Fiber service.
Looking at the enormous success of the plan, BSNL even waived off installation charges for new customers in the last few weeks.
However, at the time of introducing the plan, BSNL had also indicated that it would be in place only for six months, and would be withdrawn in early April, and the company has indeed done so with effect from today.
The 449 Fiber Basic plan was intended to test the waters, and new customers who signed up were warned that they would be shifted to 60Mbps @ Rs 599 plan after they have used the 449 plan for six months.
The primary aim of the plan was to check if it can protect existing Bharat Fiber subscribers from being poached by Reliance Jio with its new offerings.
With the withdrawal of the Rs 449 Basic Plan, BSNL no longer has any offering to compete against Jio’s entry level 399 offering.
Jio has been gaining subscribers at a breakneck speed in recent months.
In the three months from November to January, the company added a whopping 5.5 lakh subscribers, compared to 2.3 lakh subscribers added by Bharti Airtel.
During the same period, BSNL lost 60,000 broadband users.
Unlike Bharti Airtel and BSNL, Jio is drawing its own cable. BSNL and Airtel get a large chunk of their fiber customers through local cable operators. They provide high-speed connectivity to the LCO, who then takes the signal to the end customer on their own fiber network.
BSNL continues to be competitive against Jio in higher speed plans.
Jio’s second plan — 100 Mbps unlimited — costs Rs 699 plus tax (around Rs 830), while BSNL offers a 60 Mbps unlimited plan at Rs 599 plus tax (Rs 710).
It is not clear if BSNL intends to come out with any new offering in the Rs 400 range to compete against Jio.