With the Indian telecom sector going through considerable shake up in terms of pricing of services, Bharti Airtel, one of India's largest telecom operators, has revised its long term prepaid tariff plans of late. Under the new pricing norms, Bharti Airtel's entry level long term prepaid recharge is now priced at Rs 598. The plan comes with validity period of 84 days (roughly three months), and offers 'truly' unlimited calling — a new phrase being used by operators to denote that there are no hidden cross-operator calling charges that are to be borne by users.
Additionally, customers buying the Rs 598 long term prepaid recharge will get 100 SMS messages per day, 1.5GB of 3G/4G data per day and a range of add-on services, which include complementary subscriptions to FASTag, Xstream Premium and Wynk Music for the said period. Customers will also get free access to a four-week trial course of their choice at online tutorial centre, Shaw Academy, with this prepaid plan.
How this fares against rivals
In comparison, Vodafone offers the exact same offering, i.e truly unlimited calling, 1.5GB data and 100 SMS per day and ancillary services (Zee5, Vodafone Play), at Rs 599 — practically the same price. Reliance Jio, on the other hand, offers the same plan at a slightly lesser cost of Rs 555. However, Jio's plan offers unlimited calling only to Jio network numbers, while calls to non-Reliance Jio numbers are capped at 3,000 minutes for the 84-day period of the plan.
Post the specified FUP, Jio will charge interconnect usage charges (IUC) of 6p per minute, which will be reversed to users in the form of 1GB data per Rs 10 spent. To accommodate for this, users can buy Rs 10 top-up recharges, as an when needed, over and above this plan. For reference, the 3,000 minutes of allocated non-Jio calling minutes translate to roughly 36 minutes per day. Jio's plan also comes bundled with Jio apps and services, such as JioTV, JioNews and an ad-supported version of JioSaavn.
Both Vodafone and Reliance Jio also offer less expensive long term prepaid plans, which would suit users with lesser data requirements. These can be found with Vodafone's Rs 379 prepaid pack, which offers truly unlimited calls, 100 SMS messages per day, additional services and 6GB data for the entire period. Reliance Jio yet again offers the least expensive of all the long term packs, with its Rs 329 prepaid plan offering 6GB data for the entire period, and non-Jio calls capped at 3,000 minutes for the period. With the latter, Jio's IUC pricing norms apply.
For users with higher data requirements, all the three operators also offer 84-day prepaid plans that provide 2GB data per day. These plans are priced at Rs 698 for Airtel, Rs 699 for Vodafone, and Rs 599 for Reliance Jio (non-Jio call FUP of 3,000 minutes and IUC charges apply).