Airtel counters Jio, rolls out offers for low-income users


Bharti Airtel has rolled out recharge and talk time offerings for 55 million “low income” customers impacted by the ongoing pandemic. The second largest telco’s offers come within days of market leader Reliance Jio Infocomm’s (Jio) initiatives towards its own feature phone subscribers, with the rivals targeting rural and prepaid customers with the aim of retailing their own and poaching from each other.

Airtel on Sunday announced benefits worth Rs 270 crore targeting the 55 million low income customers to tide over the impact of Covid-19.

“As a one-time gesture,

will give the Rs 49 pack free of cost to over 55 million low income customers. The pack offers a talktime of Rs 38 and 100 MB data with a validity of 28 days,” said the telco which has about 336 million subscribers as of December end quarter.

The second largest telco which will report its January-March quarter results on Monday, “Airtel prepaid customers buying the Rs 79 Recharge Coupon will now get double the benefit. This will make it easier for them to stay connected at a difficult time,” it added.

These offers are keeping the rural and prepaid customers in mind , who also form a large part of Jio’s subscriber set. Last Friday, Jio came up with additional talk time and recharge benefits for its 100 million JioPhone subscribers.

Jio needs to gain more customers swiftly in order to stay ahead of Airtel and reach its 500 million subscriber target. But with lower churn during the pandemic, analysts say the top telco will have to step up the pace with more initiatives.

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Infact after the end of the December end quarter results, analysts at Bernstein placed the three private players on a strong to weak list.

“In 3QFY21, subscriber addition was strongest at Bharti (14 million adds) while it was modest at Jio (5.2 million ) and weak at VI (decline of 2 million ).

Vodafone Idea (Vi) has not rolled out any offers for its customers yet.

Both Airtel and Jio have been in a slugfest for subscribers and these offers coincide during a phase where Jio has been losing active users compared with gains made by its main rival Airtel.

According to the regulator’s latest data, Jio’s active subscriber dipped in February while Airtel’s had upped significantly.

“Bharti Airtel gained 3.8 million active subscribers to 340 million , Vodafone Idea reported an increase of 0.7 million subscribers but active subscribers were down by 0.2 million ,and Reliance Jio reported its highest 4.3 million subscriber addition to 415 million , but active subscribers declined by 0.2 million,” noted brokerage firm CLSA .

Airtel is also offering Covid emergency services on the Airtel Thanks App for users to find verified supplies of medicines, oxygen, plasma etc. and also book vaccination slots.



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