Bharti Airtel added a whopping 21 million 4G subscribers in a single quarter for the first time. During the September-December 2019 quarter, Airtel 4G subscriber base got a major boost, owing to the six paise interconnect usage charges introduced by Reliance Jio. For the unaware, Jio started charging six paise per minute for off-net calls which made its subscribers shift to Bharti Airtel on a large number. Last week, Bharti Airtel reported its numbers for the quarter that ended on December 31, 2019, in which the company reported an overall 4G user base of 123.8 million. In contrast to the same period in 2018, Airtel had just 77.1 million 4G users. This essentially means the company’s 4G subscriber base grew by a whopping 60.6%.
Reliance Jio 6 Paise Off-Net Calling Charges Helping Bharti Airtel
Reliance Jio started charging for outgoing voice calls made to other networks like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, BSNL and MTNL from October 10, 2019. When the Mukesh Ambani-owned telco announced this move, it did not offer any All-in-One plans with bundled off-net minutes. This forced Jio 4G subscribers to migrate to Bharti Airtel and the results are evident.
“October-November was the period when there was..a change dynamic, given the charging that one of our competitors has imposed the off-net pricing,” Vittal told investors after the recent quarter results. Airtel added more than 21 million 4G subscribers which is around seven million subscribers seven million 4G customers every month from October to December. This news is reported by Ultra News.
However, Vittal also said that Jio corrected its bad move by launching All-in-One plans with bundled off-net minutes. For example, the telco launched plans like Rs 222, Rs 444 and Rs 555 which ship with off-net minutes, allowing users to make voice calls to other networks without any additional costs. Once Jio customers exhaust the off-net minutes, they will have to perform IUC Top-Ups which start at Rs 10.
Jio Still Imposing Interconnect Usage Charges
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea also imposed six paise IUC for off-net calls for a couple of days in December 2019. However, both the telcos were quick to realise the bad move and revoked back to the old unlimited voice calling facility. But Reliance Jio did not fall back to the old truly unlimited calling benefit which might result in the company’ subscriber base dip.
Reliance Jio is now officially the largest telecom operator in terms of subscriber base, followed by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. Both Jio and Airtel already reported their results for the quarter that ended on December 31, 2019. Vodafone Idea will be revealing its numbers later this week which will be interesting to see.