The story of the telecom industry of India is well known to everyone. Currently, in the ruthlessly competitive segment, only three private players remain, which namely include Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea. Out of these three, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio are financially alright whereas, Vodafone Idea seems to be in the shadows with regards to its financial burdens. What’s common for all the telecom operators right now is their prepaid plans. Because of the competitive nature of the telecom industry, the prepaid plans of all the telecom companies resemble each other very closely. Hence, any change introduced by one is followed up very fast by others. This is what has happened in the latest change which Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone Idea are making to their plans and it’s not in the right direction. The telecom operators are increasingly reducing the SMS benefits for their subscribers in their entry-level plans.
Changing Prepaid Plans
In recent times, we have seen the trend of telecom operators focusing more on the upper rungs of the plans. This means that all three operators are pushing for more premium plans for the customers. This said absence of focus from the lower prepaid plans means that the subscribers now find it more and more difficult to find a plan of their liking, which meets their needs. This is a departure from the previous practices of telcos of driving prices to the ground with immense offers, free data, and multitudes of offerings.
Removal of SMS Benefits
Following up on this, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio have all started reducing the SMS benefits on the prepaid plans of lower values. For example, taking into consideration the Rs 98 prepaid plan by Reliance Jio which comes with 14 days validity and offers 1.5GB data per day. The plan ships unlimited calling to the users, but bundles absolutely no SMS benefits. Reliance Jio’s plan is not a study in isolation, but this phenomenon is also seen across plans by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea as well.
What Telcos Should Do?
This comes as a concerning thing for the subscribers since a lot of customers who might have had inactive numbers or want to port their SIMs, or perhaps simply want to receive SMS for registration of bank services and other important needs would have to resort to higher prepaid plans for using simple services. SMS benefits are one of the most basic benefits which the telcos started offering since the era of “free data”, now removing the SMS benefits while retaining the unlimited calls benefit from the prepaid plans begets some reasoning and explanation from the telcos. Hence, it remains in the best interest of the telecom companies and the subscribers as well to make sure that the lower value prepaid plans come with ample SMS benefits. If not the usual 100 SMS per day benefit, for the sake of higher ARPU and to cut down costs, the telecom operators can set a lower limit on these. However, to simply remove the SMS benefits from the plans is a change that the industry is not yet ready for.