Bharti Airtel is offering free Internet usage of up to 1GB per day and 600 minutes of voice calls (per day) to any network for a period of 1 year when customers purchase the new Micromax Canvas 2, reports Economic Times. The offer counters Reliance Jio’s ongoing promo pack which offers 3 months of free 4G data capped at 1 GB or 2GB for Rs 309 or Rs 509 respectively. However, unlike Airtel’s tie up with Micromax, Jio is offering complimentary data with paid packs.

Nikhil adds: This is, in effect, the bunding of data with handsets, and from a Net Neutrality, is one of the equal rating models proposed by Mozilla Foundation Chair Mitchell Baker. Equal rating models do not violate net neutrality, and further Internet access. In the past, Airtel has attempted to launch Airtel Zero, which was as service that violated Net Neutrality, and was subsequently banned following the differential pricing ruling from the TRAI.

Jio is changing telecom

Jio’s entry has changed how telcos have been bundling voice and data to the end user. Rivals including Airtel, Idea, Vodafone, RCOM and BSNL unveiled new unlimited calling plans with bundled data after Jio announced its pricing. The competitive pressure has also forced the telecom industry to focus on generating ample ARPU and retaining high-value users, instead of the earlier tariff led strategy. During an analyst call in February, RCOM’s CEO Gurdeep Singh said that the industry has shifted from being a tariff-based business to “a capacity and a volume-led play” wherein “the pricing structure is getting transferred from per minute or a per MB to ARPU-led structure.” According to him, ARPU-led plans can also be tweaked to target consumers “who have large voice needs and have a smaller data requirement”.

Note that Airtel has also been tying up with various content providers including Netflix, Hotstar, etc. for its Android-based Set Top Box launch. It also has a partnership with Ola for connectivity and content for Ola Play (its in-cab entertainment system), as well as a partnership with Facebook for Facebook’s Express Wifi project which plans to install 20,000 WiFi access points in India.

Rivals have challenged Jio’s offer in court

Jio’s rivals Airtel, Idea and Vodafone are currently fighting a legal battle against Jio for its promo offers. Airtel filed a case with the TDSAT (a special court for telecom cases) last month, alleging that Jio delayed in revoking its 3-month complementary tariff pack, even after regulator TRAI asked it to pull it down. Idea is also a party in the case while Vodafone has moved the Delhi HC against Jio’s offers.

Airtel’s user base in Q4FY17

During the quarter ended March 31st, 2017 (Q4 FY17), Airtel’s mobile Internet user base increased by around 2.45 million (4.5%) quarter on quarter to 57.36 million. It also added 5.02 million mobile broadband (3G+4G) users during the quarter, taking the total base to 42.71

Nikhil’s disclosure: I was on the jury panel for Mozilla’s Equal Rating Innovation Challenge, was also a co-founder and volunteer of which contested Airtel Zero.