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Airtel Reduces 4G Data Tariff; Who Really Uses Airtel 4G?

Bharti Airtel has reduced its 4G tariff for prepay and postpay customers in  Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune and Chandigarh.When we checked, Airtel had not updated its website with the new plans.

Airtel’s 4G data plans now start at Rs 450 per month offering 2GB of 4G data. Other monthly 4G plans include 3GB for Rs 650, 4GB for Rs 750, 10GB for Rs 999, 12GB for Rs 1299, 15GB for Rs 1449, 25GB for Rs 2049, 45GB for Rs 2999, and 80GB for Rs 4799. Note that Airtel does not offer any free access to movies and games on demand on its lower priced plans. Only plans above Rs 999 per month will have access to Airtel’s 4G entertainment library.

Airtel has partnered with BigFlix to offer online movie streaming of 1000 movies to its 4G customers through Airtel Movies. It had also partnered with Indiagames to provide 100 games on Airtel Games. Besides this, Games On-Demand also offers games like FIFA and NFS from publishers including as EA, Ubisoft, Square-Enix, PopCap and Alawar, however, it appears that these games are not covered under the free access to 100 games.

It’s not clear whether Airtel still offers 4G add on packs called Smartbytes to its postpay customers to extend their 4G data cap after they exhaust their limit. We have contacted Airtel and will update the post when we receive a response.

4G cheaper than 3G: Interestingly, the revised plans now make Airtel’s 4G plans cheaper than Airtel’s 3G data plans. For example, a 2GB monthly data pack that costs Rs 450 per month on 4G, is priced higher at Rs 455 on 3G. It appears that Airtel wants to aggressively promote its 4G service. We feel that this is possible as the demand for 4G is lesser than 3G, thus utilizing less bandwidth.

However, it should be noted that there currently aren’t any devices available in the country that offer inbuilt 4G support. It’s highly unlikely that a lot of user would shift to 4G as they would have to invest in additional hardware, which is quite expensive.  

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Who really uses 4G? It should be noted that in September 2012 we had reported that  Airtel has been able to sign-up 3,180 subscribers. The data was provided by the Minister of State for Communications & Information Technology, Milind Deora in the Lok Sabha. However, Airtel has not disclosed any 4G subscriber information ever since.

Instead, during its conference call with the investors, Airtel said that it is very difficult to offer ubiquitous coverage in 4G network since 2.3GHz spectrum has a penetration of about 300-350 metres, which is very difficult to work with. Also, the device ecosystem is very nascent since there is no 4G compatible handset in the market, due to which it is largely selling dongles or routers.

Airtel offers LTE compatible wireless devices including multi-mode USB dongles (Huawei E392) and a Indoor Wireless gateway (Huawei B593). The USB dongle is priced at Rs 4,999 and will feature a USIM card slot, a Micro SD card slot and a USB 2.0 connector while the Indoor wireless gateway is priced at Rs 7,750 and will convert the LTE connection to Wi-Fi network which can then be shared across multiple devices.

Airtel Rolls Out 4G In Bengaluru; Introduces New Plans With Bundled Devices, Smartbytes
Airtel Rolls Out 4G In Pune; Introduces EMI & COD Payment Methods
After Vodafone, Airtel & Idea Also Reduce Its 2G Data Rates In Select Circles

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