Reliance Jio says its rates still cheapest despite Airtel, Vodafone Idea move to remove offnet call limits

While Airtel and VIL raised their prices by 40%, Jio came out with a revised plan few days later but up to 25% lesser.

MUMBAI: Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) said its 350 million plus customers have more than sufficient unlimited call timing before its off net charges kick in. The telco’s stance that it remains the operator with cheaper tariffs on the back of Airtel and Vodafone Idea removing their limits on off net calls, is a sign wars have not abated and Jio remains the threat .

Jio is yet to take any such step. “Entitlement for off net calls in Jio’s "All in One Plans" is more than 5 times of what an average customer uses as per industry data and consequently, an average Jio customer is unlikely to have to ever pay for off net calls. We reiterate that Jio plans offer upto 25% higher value than comparable plans of other operators,” said a spokesperson.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have removed limits on off net calls over last weekend, a reaction to rival Reliance Jio’s latest tariff plans which are up to 25% cheaper than theirs.

Off net calls can be used as a strategy where a telecom company rolls out a fair usage policy (FUP), to cap daily usage in their unlimited calling plans. After a limit customers are charged per minute for calls made to a rival’s network. In the case of the three telcos it was at 6 paise per minute and the unlimited calls varied depending on price plans.

The three remaining private players-Airtel, VIL and Jio with 280 million, 311 million and 355 million customers have been baiting each other’ customers with rock bottom tariffs and finally raised them after three years.

While Airtel and VIL raised their prices by 40%, Jio came out with a revised plan few days later but up to 25% lesser. According to people aware, removing FUP caps is more of a psychological game where customers are relieved that they will continue to have unlimited calls to rival network.

“Feedback from the market made the two telcos remove these caps. A subscriber may not even reach the FUP limit but he knows that there is no limit to his talk time ,” said a senior executive in one of the two telcos which has reminded the caps.

Getting subscribers onto the new plans is the main motto and the telcos do not want their customers to downgrade. Losing them would mean the aim of improving average revenue per user (ARPU), a key market indicator, is lost .

Analysts estimate Vodafone Idea’s ARPU to rise to Rs 143 from Rs 107, and Airtel’s to move to Rs 145-150 from Rs 128 over the next two quarters, after the tariff hikes, subject to them not losing users.




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