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Innovative Offerings: New plans aim to boost data uptake

December 29, 2015
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With the saturation in the voice segment, the incremental revenues of operators are now coming mostly from data services. As a result, they are aggressively focusing on increasing data consumption in their networks by engaging customers with innovative data offers. These include a mix of data sharing and data cashback offers, and the provision of basic internet access at lower rates.

tele.net takes a look at the recently launched innovative data plans of certain select operators…

Bharti Airtel

Airtel has introduced new data plans for its prepaid customers, who constitute around 94 per cent of its subscriber base. These include the data cashback and “MyAirtel family” plans. Under the data cashback offer, customers get a daily morning credit of 50 per cent of the data they consume between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. The data received as cashback will have the same validity as the user’s active data pack. This is expected to boost data usage at night, when networks are less congested. Although similar plans to incentivise data usage were launched by other operators in the past, they all entailed a small subscription fee. However, Airtel’s new plan does not require any such fee.

With the MyAirtel Family plan, prepaid users can share their 3G or 4G data with four other Airtel subscribers. This service is free and all members will have unrestricted access to the owner’s data pack. The operator had earlier launched a similar plan called “myPlan for family” for post-paid consumers in 2014.

Airtel’s financial results for the quarter ended September 2015 indicate that a large share of its revenues in the near future will come from data. While the operator’s voice ARPU declined by 11 per cent, from Rs 158 in September 2014 to Rs 140 in September 2015, its data ARPU grew by 28 per cent, from Rs 150 to Rs 193, during the same period. Hence, the operator is likely to come out with more innovative data offers to fuel its data uptake, which in turn will drive revenues.

Vodafone India

Vodafone India has launched its RED Family@99 pack, which allows customers to share data plans with family members or add devices at an additional cost of

Rs 99 per month. A Vodafone RED customer can add up to five members or devices to the RED Family. The Red Family@99 pack is available on the company’s existing Red 499, 699, 899, 1299 and 1599 and 1999 plans. These plans offer the convenience of a single bill for multiple connections and are aimed at reducing hassles like tracking multiple due dates for post-paid connections and multiple recharges for prepaid customers.

Videocon Telecom

Videocon Telecom has launched a double data offer under which its customers get double the amount of data that is currently available on all standard data packs. This is applicable during night hours (12 a.m. to 7 a.m.). The operator has launched the scheme keeping in mind that the majority of data users comprise younger people who use mobile data regardless of the time of day. Moreover, approximately 20 per cent of the operator’s data is used between 12 a.m. and 7 a.m., and around 17 per cent of its users consume more than 50 per cent of data during night hours. Videocon feels that the double data initiative will increase its overall data consumption by over 50 per cent and data revenue by around 25 per cent in the next six months. It also expects data consumption per user per month to increase by up to 20 per cent. With this new offer and several other micromarketing initiatives for data services, Videocon Telecom is aiming to surpass the 126 per cent growth achieved in its data business in 2014.

Idea Cellular

The share of data services in Idea Cellular’s overall service revenue increased from 14 per cent during the quarter ended September 2014 to 19.6 per cent during the quarter ended September 2015. In order to further boost data traffic, Idea has come up with EasyShare plans that allow subscribers to transfer data benefits from their packs to other subscribers in their circle by paying a small convenience fee. For instance, with a prepaid EasyShare pack worth Rs 158, a subscriber can share 100 MB of data at a convenience fee of Re 1.


Aircel has launched a free basic internet service for its prepaid customers. This scheme will provide a download speed of 64 kbps, allowing customers to access emails, instant messengers and some basic websites. However, it is not meant for streaming videos, making video calls, gaming and downloading movies. It aims to give hands-on mobile internet experience to new customers and attract them to higher tariff packs.


Most of the new data plans seek to create a pool of internet data that can be shared among individuals. These plans create a win-win situation for both operators as well as customers. Since they can be shared only by subscribers of the same operator, they incentivise family members and friends to choose the same service provider, thereby increasing the operator’s subscriber base. Those who subscribe to these plans can benefit by getting mobile data from their friends and family members when they run out of their own data.

With the growth in data consumption expected to accelerate further owing to the increase in smartphone penetration, along with the growing popularity of mobile applications and the launch of high speed long term evolution services, operators are likely to introduce more such innovative data packs.

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