Telecom operator Vodafone has launched a new plan for its customers. Now for Rs. 244, Vodafone offers unlimited free STD and local calls and 1 GB data/day for a period of 70 days. But the offer doesn't look as lucrative once you read the finer print. First of all, the offer is available only to new customers. Further, the free voice calls offered are only within the Vodafone network, which means all the calls to other networks and landlines will be chargeable. And the duration is 70 days only for the first recharge; the validity of Rs. 244 scheme will be 35 days for subsequent recharges. This naturally means, at the rate of 1 GB/day, the total data provided within the plan will also reduce to 35 GB from the second recharge onwards.
Vodafone has also announced another plan of Rs. 346. This plan can be availed by existing subscribers too. It gives a customer unlimited voice calls to any network and also 1 GB data/day for a period of 56 days. The free voice calls offer comes with a daily limit of 300 minutes and weekly limit of 1200 minutes.
It is noteworthy that even the Rs.346 plan offered by Vodafone pales in comparison to the Rs.309 plan of Reliance Jio. For Rs.309, Jio offers unlimited voice calls and unlimited data for a duration of 56 days. There's a daily limit of 1 GB/day on 4G data. Once this limit is reached, the internet speed will reduce to 128 Kbps.
The two following images are comparison charts of the 'unlimited' tariffs offered by various operators:
From the above images, it is clear that only Jio is offering truly unlimited plans. So called 'unlimited' plans of other telcos are unlimited only in their names, and are in fact severely limited by their fair usage policies (FUPs). One major difference between Jio and other operators is that all voice calls are free for Jio users. In fact, this policy of Jio has resulted in the Indian telecom market becoming data based from voice call oriented and Jio's competitors are finding it difficult to adapt to this sudden change; as is reflected in their tariffs.
Also see: Reliance Jio Announced New Tariffs: Good News For Customers
Though the aggressive price war between operators which began last September since the launch of Jio is still going on, the telcos have been trying through many other means too to halt Jio's growth. For instance, telcos have been repeatedly approaching Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) raising concerns about Jio's strategies. Most recently, they asked TRAI to setup a Minimum Floor Prices for voice and data tariffs. Had TRAI accepted this demand, it would have affected Jio the most. But TRAI rejected this proposal.
Since none of the incumbent operators have been able to beat Jio's pricing, Jio has been growing from strength to strength and has accumulated more than 100 million subscribers even though it has not been even a year since its launch. But as Jio is a 4G VoLTE exclusive network, it hasn't been able to penetrate India's vast rural market. Most of rural India still depends on feature phones and most feature phones in the market now do not support 4G. In order to tackle this problem, Jio recently launched the JioPhone which is a 4G enabled feature phone. It will be given to customers on payment of Rs.1500 which is refundable after 3 years. This means the phone is effectively free.
If the JioPhone too becomes a hit, the road ahead will be extremely difficult for other telcos. Idea and Vodafone have already merged and other companies too are in talks to merge with each other to take on Jio. But at present, the average Indian mobile user is experiencing the best time of his/her life with operators vying for his/her attention and treating him/her like royalty.
Jio is the clear winner in the tariff war
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