The Jio juggernaut continues to move from strength to strength in the telecom sector, garnering as many as 125 million users in less than a year of launching its services to the public. But that doesn't mean incumbent operators are far behind, as they have launched a number of plans to compete with the ultra-low cost data offerings by Reliance Jio. The latest is the new Airtel Rs. 349 plan that competes directly with the Jio plan priced at Rs. 349, but with more bundled data. Along with this plan, Airtel has launched cashback offers on its recharges, and has also revised the Rs. 399 plan to offer free outgoing roaming but with lower validity.
The Rs. 349 prepaid pack comes with 28GB of bundled data, doled out in tranches of 1GB per day, along with unlimited local and STD calls. The validity of this pack is 28 days. While the company claims to provide unlimited calls, there’s actually a cap of 1,000 minutes per week; if you exhaust the limit, you will be charged at 10 paisa per minute for calls to Airtel numbers, and 30 paisa per minute for calls to other networks. Similarly, the free calls are limited to 250 minutes per day, after which the same 10 paisa per minute, and 30 paisa per minute tariffs are levied for calls to Airtel and other networks, respectively.
This plan takes on the Rs. 349 Jio pack that offers bundled data, unlimited calls to all networks, and free SMSes for 56 days. The consumers buying this pack get 10GB data for the first 28 days of the validity period, and another 10GB data for the remaining 28-day validity period. One of the major differences between the Airtel and Jio plans is that the former has a daily cap while the latter provides lumpsum data in two phases. Vodafone also has a Rs. 392 pack with 1GB data per day for 28 days and unlimited calls.
As mentioned above, the Rs. 399 plan with 84 days validity that Airtel launched last month has seen changes too. Instead of the original 84 days validity, users will only get 28-day validity with the plan now. The plan also comes with bundled calls with the same caps on free minutes as the Rs. 349 plan. This essentially makes the Rs. 399 pack the same as the Rs. 349 plan, except that the former has free roaming outgoing calls as well; there was no free roaming when the plan was launched in August.
Airtel is also providing a Rs. 5 recharge pack with 4GB of bundled data for consumers who upgrade to the company’s 4G SIM. It is a one-time pack, meaning you will not get this offer again after the first recharge. The validity of this pack is 7 days, and there are no bundled calls.
Users making payments for purchasing the recharge packs via the Airtel Payments Bank will get 5 percent cashback, up to Rs. 25 per transaction. Also, if you make an Airtel Payments Bank account and buy the Rs. 349 pack, you will get 10 percent cashback, i.e. Rs. 34.9.
Apart from these, Airtel has launched the Rs. 40 and Rs. 60 plans, offering talk time of Rs. 35 and Rs. 58, respectively.