Airtel on Sunday said that it is extending its free data offer for three more billing cycles. The offer is an extension of an earlier Airtel Surprise offer wherein only postpaid users were eligible for free data up to 30GB. Postpaid users will have to download the My Airtel app to avail up to 10 GB per month for the next three month. The offer can be availed after July 1st 2017, i.e. at the end of the ongoing billing cycle.
The free offer was communicated to users as a letter from Gopal Vittal, CEO of Bharti Airtel:
The free data offer by Airtel was launched in response to Jio’s free calling and data promos. But it is to be stressed upon that Airtel has limited these data freebies to postpaid users, leaving out prepaid users. The telco is also bundling free data with certain smartphones including Micromax Canvas 2.
Telcos want new tariff regulations after Jio launch
The current Airtel offer can be considered as a promo pack, and telcos have been pressurizing TRAI and authorities to change existing laws regarding freebies. Currently, as per regulation, a telco cannot offer promotional offers for more than 90 days. Airtel had earlier criticized Jio for its promo offers in its response to a consultation paper stating that the “free tariff offered by a new entrant for more than 6 months generated a tsunami of incoming voice traffic on our network.”
It also added that the incoming traffic from Jio was asymmetrical, leading to a “complete failure of the IUC regime”. IUC or Interconnect Usage Charge is paid by the telco on whose network a call originates, to the other, on whose network the call terminates. Anil Ambani-led RCOM has also asked the government to do away with IUC charges.
Apart from this, Jio’s rivals have been filing legal cases against the new entrant alleging predatory pricing. Airtel’s complaint with Competition Commission of India against Jio was however dismissed by the CCI; more on this here. Airtel also filed a different case with the TDSAT (a special court for telecom cases) in April, 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.
Corrigendum: An earlier version of this story mentioned that the new pack must be availed before July 1st. This has been corrected to read as: “the new pack can be availed after July 1st”. We apologise for the error.