With every passing quarter, the Average Revenue Per User (APRU) of top telcos- Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea has been dipping alongside that of Reliance Jio's. But the Mukesh Ambani-led telco's ARPU has been slightly better than that of the other two telcos. In order to increase their ARPU, telcos have come up with a plan and that is to remove talk time prepaid plans. Yes, you heard it right. Talk time recharges are a thing of past as both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have removed talk time recharges of various denominations- Rs 20, Rs 30, Rs 50 and so on. That said, telcos have retained some of them such as the Rs 10, Rs 1,000 and Rs 5,000 talk time plans. With this move, telcos will be now pushing users to recharge the combo prepaid plans. Jio's combo prepaid plans for a month start at Rs 98 while those of Airtel and Vodafone Idea also start a similar price for select users.
Taking Down Talk Time Recharges
If you are one of the people who use mobile wallets like MobiKwik or Paytm to recharge, then it is possible that you might have noticed that some of the talk time plans which were being offered by the telcos are no more available right now. Although other plans like STVs, long terms plans and add-on packs are available for recharge, there are no talk time plans available for these telcos which tells us that the only possible reason behind this is the discontinuation of these plans. Even the talk time recharges such as Rs 20, Rs 40, Rs 50, Rs 100 and so on are absent from the recharge portals which also include Airtel's official app and website, Vodafone Idea's app and website.
As per the new update, telcos like Vodafone Idea and Airtel will make it essential for the customers to recharge with another plan to have a talk time validity. These plans could possibly include plans like Rs. 149, Rs. 199, Rs. 349, Rs. 399 which are already up for a subscription by the users. If the subscribers do not recharge with these plans, then the outgoing calls will be stopped from the customer’s number and eventually the incoming calls as well. Furthermore, both the telcos launched Active Recharges and Smart Recharge plans very recently with validity up to 28 days. Even the base Rs 35 plan offers validity of 28 days.
The only talk time recharges available right now are Rs 10 and Rs 1,000, but honestly, who needs a Rs 10 recharge value which offers a benefit of around Rs 7. To stay active, customers have to choose the combo recharge plans or go with the Rs 1,000 talk time plan. For the unaware, earlier, both Vodafone Idea and Airtel offered talk time recharge plans of Rs 20, Rs 30, Rs 40, Rs 50, Rs 100 and so on with unlimited validity, but now, they've been removed to increase the ARPU.
Customers Should Recharge for Every 28 Days
As mentioned above, Airtel also recently launched new prepaid recharge packs for their subscribers which start for as low as Rs 35 and offers talk time and combo data in a single recharge. During the launch of these prepaid data packs, the Chief Executive Officer, Amit Tripathi - Bharti Airtel said in an official statement, “We are constantly listening to our customers and are working towards improving their experience through exciting innovations and process re-engineering.”
These developments suggest that finally telcos are moving beyond the obsolete pricing of the talk time plans and now the customers will be able to avail, aptly priced, transparent services under a single plan where data, calling and SMS will be clubbed into one single recharge.
Telcos Aiming to Boost Dipping ARPU
The ARPU of telcos has come down drastically in the last 18 months, thanks to the intense competition in the industry. With this move, telcos are aiming to increase their ARPU by forcing users to recharge either a combo plan or Rs 1,000 talk time plan to enjoy the services. Not a bad move at all considering the current financial scenario of the industry.