To counter the tough competition given by Reliance Jio through extended free services, mobile operator Bharti Airtel on Thursday came out with two prepaid offerings, including a Rs 145 pack, that will offer free unlimited local/STD calls along with 4G data.
While Airtel's Rs 145 pack offers 300 MB 4G data along with free unlimited Airtel-to-Airtel local/STD calls, its Rs 345 pack offers unlimited free local/STD calls to any network in India and 1GB 4G data. Both packs have a validity of 28 days and are available for customers across the country.
Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio -- which garnered 52 million customer base in the first three months of 4G launch --recently announced extension of free domestic voice calls and data till March 31, 2017.
Even after March, the company would offer free calls for life to its 4G customers.
Industry watchers are of the view that extension of free services bu telecom companies will add to the woes of the industry which is already reeling under Rs 4,25,000-crore debt.
Ajai Puri, Director Market Operations (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel said, "This is another initiative from us to bring innovative bundle offers to our customers in line with our endeavour to provide the great value backed by a superior network experience." Besides free calls on same network, the Rs 145 pack offers 300 MB data to customers who have 4G-enabled mobile phone, and 50 MB data to customers with handsets suited for web surfing and accessing light social media applications. The Rs 345 pack offers 1 GB data to customers with 4G phones and 50 MB data to customers with basic mobile phones,besides free local/STD calls to any network in India. On Wednesday, Harsh Jagnani, Associate Head Corporate Ratings, ICRA Ltd said that heightened competitive pressures would impact the performance of the telcos during the next two quarters (December and March quarter) of FY2017.
The "revenue loss, owing to demonetisation and pressure on operating metrics due to competitive pressures, intensified by extension of free services by RJio, are expected to negatively impact the revenue of the industry by 5-7 per cent during the next two quarters," ICRA said.