Airtel takes on Jio with unlimited 5G data offer

By Jatin Grover

In a sign of the intense competition in the telecom market, Bharti Airtel on Friday allowed all its postpaid customers and those with prepaid plans of Rs 239 or more unlimited access to 5G data. On Wednesday, Reliance Jio had launched postpaid plans for individuals and families that were priced at a discount of 30% to those of peers.

The tariff war between the top two telcos in the country is likely to continue as they go all out to woo subscribers. Bharti Airtel, industry watchers noted, was working to prevent its subscriber base from switching over to Reliance Jio, which has been offering unlimited 5G data over 4G recharge plans since the launch of 5G. Bharti Airtel has over 10 million 5G subscribers on its network across 270 cities.

Analysts also view the Airtel plans as a strategy to get its users familiar with 5G before introducing any tariffs. So far, Airtel consumers were able to use 5G to the extent of their daily or monthly data limit in their respective 4G plans.

In January, Reliance Jio lowered the entry barrier for customers for 5G services by upgrading its 4G data add-on plan of Rs 61 to 5G, which allows users with recharge plans below Rs 239 to get a 5G welcome offer. The new postpaid plans by Jio would come into effect from March 22 and are an effort to migrate users from prepaid to postpaid to enhance its average revenue per user (arpu).

Analysts also pointed out the telcos were gearing up for the IPL. It was important for Airtel, they said, to stay abreast of the competition given JioCinema is offering free streaming services on its app for customers regardless of which service they were subscribing to.

“We could see a 15% jump sequential increase in data consumption in the June quarter largely due to IPL,” an analyst said. FE