More reports on: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd / Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm

Airtel, BSNL take on Reliance Jio with cheaper 4G data packs

23 September 2016

Bharti Airtel and state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) are launching competitive 4G data packs to take on competition from Reliance Jio's free voce and cheap data plans.

Bharti Airtel has launched a 4G data pack that offers free data for 90 days, a company statement said on Friday.

While the pack is available for Rs1,495 for existing users, new users can avail this offer through first recharge of Rs1,494, the statement said.

"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 of operations (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel.

The pack is currently available in Delhi and will be launched across other circles over the next few days.

State-owned BSNL is planning to follow Reliance Jio in offering free voice calling on its network, and at tariff plans that will be cheaper than the new entrant's. In fact, BSNL will be the first to cut tariffs to better Reliance Jio's offer, a top official said on Wednesday.

Also, unlike Jio's offer that is available for only 4G subscribers, the BSNL plan will be open to 2G and 3G users, which constitute the majority of mobile customers.

BSNL, has a strong market penetration and significant share in many key markets such as Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Punjab and UP, will announce the zero-voice-tariff plans from January and these would be lower than the Rs149 entry price of Jio.

The services will, however, not be available in key markets such as Mumbai and Delhi that are serviced by MTNL.

However, the free-voice facility will also be available when a subscriber would use it outside the residence.

Shrivastava said that the plan will be offered to BSNL's mobile customers who also have a broadband connection at home. "The idea is to use the home broadband to route outgoing mobile calls through the landline network. We estimate that a large amount of time is spent at home, and so here we can ride on our wire-line operations," he said.

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