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Airtel addresses Jio challenge with free data plan

Location India. Red pin on the map.

Airtel has answered the Jio challenge by offering 4G customers free data for a year, though there are strings attached to the deal.

The status quo in the Indian telco industry has been thoroughly shaken in recent months after Jio’s entry to the market essentially offering all services for free, though it appears Airtel is fighting back according to India Today.

“At Airtel, we are focused on providing great value to customers,” said Ajai Puri, Director of Operations of India & South Asia at Bharti Airtel. “Customers with 4G handsets generally consume large amounts of data and this proposition is specifically aimed at them. With this pack these customers can stay online round the clock without having to worry about exhausting their data limits or going for frequent recharges.”

The offer is currently available to any customer with a 4G mobile handset that is currently not on the Airtel network, though it’s not exactly clear how this relates to current customers. The Jio proposition certainly has the potential to damage Airtel’s retention plans, bearing this in mind, limiting the offer to new customers does seem slightly short-sighted.

While it does sound like an attractive offer on the surface, customers may be slightly surprised if they dig a little deeper. The plan is limited to 3GB of data during a 28-day period, and also 30GB of data across the year. Once this limit has been reached the 4G speed will be reduced to 64Kbps. This is what Airtel execs have branded a ‘fair use policy’, but what some people might call small print advertising.

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