Incumbent telecom operators Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular today made an attempt to match free 4G service of Reliance Jio by launching two identical schemes offering free calls and limited mobile internet use priced at around Rs 150 and Rs 350 with 28 days validity.
To match Jio unlimited calling plan, Airtel and Idea today announced scheme priced at Rs 345 and Rs 348 respectively that will allow their customers to make unlimited calls to any network in the country.
Both the companies will provide 1GB of 4G data to customers with 4G mobile phone and 50 MB for non-4G mobile handset users under the plan. At lower amount of Rs 149 and Rs 148 respectively, Airtel and Idea has started offering free calls within their network. Both the companies will provide 300 MB of 4G data to customers with 4G mobile phone and 50 MB for non-4G mobile handset users under this plan.
State-owned BSNL too has said it is considering new “less than” Rs 149 pre paid pack that will offer free calls to all networks. “We are launching pre paid pack for amount less than Rs 149 offering free calls to any network, along with 300 MB data. The pack will be launched on January 1 and details are being worked out,” BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava said.
At present, Reliance Jio is offering free 4G mobile service including calls and data till March 31. It has clocked 52 million customers in 83 days. These plans come close to proposed Rs 149 plan of Reliance Jio under which it will offer free calls to all network in the country for 28 days without any roaming charges. The plan includes 300 MB 4G data access during day and unlimited usage at night.
Besides this, Jio under the proposed plan will offer unlimited use of its music, movie, TV, news and all other apps, video call, SMS for free. Experts are of the view that Jio has further room to cut down tariff.
“We have earlier written about Jio having sufficient room to cut tariffs further from what they have already announced. We expect the eventual final tariffs for Jio (applicable from April 1, 2017) to be quite different from what they announced on September 1,” a Credit Suisse report said.
Religare Institutional Research said Bharti has given in on pricing so early in the battle even when Jio has not even started billing its subscribers yet. “Today’s launch could be due to potentially high Jio dual sim subscription by Bharti’s customers. While we do not expect these plans to be materially ARPU-dilutive for Bharti, strategically it would appear that the company is willing to toe the line on free voice calls,” Religare report said.