Vodafone, the country’s second largest telecom operator by subscriber, will also slash its data rates for both prepaid and postpaid users, following other rivals Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular which have already slashed effective mobile data rates to offer more value to their customers ahead of the impending commercial launch of Reliance Jio.
Sunil Sood, CEO, Vodafone India, at the sidelines of an industry event informed media, “We have been offering value to our customers and we will continue to do so. We are working on it (matching the data tariff cuts by other telecom players) and will shortly announce it.”
Both Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular slashed their respective data tariffs by up to 67%. According to media reports, the Indian telecom operators aren’t really reducing rates directly, but offering more value to their users, a move which is likely to help them protect their average revenue per user (ARPU).
Jio, which is currently offering services to over 1.5 million users under a trial launch, is likely to launch services in August this year. Jio as a pure-play 4G player is currently offering unlimited data offer together with 4,500 voice minutes for a period of first-three promotional months over LYF-branded smartphones and few of the Samsung’s select devices, and is likely to extend the offer to iPhones soon.
Industry watchers expect Jio to bring down the mobile data tariff by launching much cheaper data rates. Industry watchers also expect Jio to further disrupt the voice market, which currently is the bread and butter for the existing private telecom operators. Jio is likely to make voice calling free with bundled data to get short term market share if it fails to get users organically, according to media reports.
ET on July 14 reported that Jio’s maiden plan — likely to be called Freedom — may offer free voice services bundled with data, priced at least 25% lower than current offerings of top rivals.