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Idea Cellular slashes mobile internet rates ahead of Jio launch

Idea Cellular, the country’s third largest telecom operator by subscribers, Friday said that it has slashed mobile internet rates to offer up to 45% more value on 4G, 3G and 2G data packs to its prepaid customers, a move aimed at attracting and retaining users ahead of Reliance Jio Infocomm’s impending launch.

The telco has joined its bigger rival Bharti Airtel, which on Thursday slashed data rates by 50% for downloads by pre-paid customers between 3 AM and 5 AM. Idea, in a statement, said that said that the move will drive mobile internet penetration and adoption across the country.

The move to reduce mobile internet rates comes as Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio prepares to launch its 4G services commercially, possibly next month. Industry watchers say that Jio’s entry is likely to trigger a tariff war in the industry with incumbent telcos introducing attractive plans and dropping rates to ring-fence their data users.

Top industry leaders, including Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, have already predicted massive tariff erosion following Mukesh Ambani-led Jio’s entry.

According to HSBC, a drop of 10-15% in headline data rates is expected over the next three months and about 30% by the end of March 2017. The brokerage also expects Jio to garner subscriber market share of over 15% in the next four years by offering faster data speeds at lower prices.

Idea Cellular, which serves over 175 million subscribers, said that its users will now get up to 45% more data benefits on sachet packs below 1 GB. Idea offers a wide range of 4G/3G/2G sachet data packs priced between Rs 8 and Rs 225. For instance, Idea’s 2G data pack priced at Rs 19 offering 75 MB data for 3 Days, will now offer 110 MB data for 3 Days – a 45% more value to the customer, for the same price.

Similarly, a 4G/3G data pack for Rs 22 which offers 65 MB data for 3 Days will now give 90 MB 3G data for 3 days, which is 38% more data benefit to the customer. The revised data packs are available across all circles starting July 15 2016.

“Internet is one of the major drivers of the Indian economy and Digital India. We want to ensure that benefits of Internet are reaped conveniently by every individual, through our innovative, customised and affordable products. This will enable the Internet revolution and its impact to be felt in every part of the country,” Sashi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea Cellular, said in a statement.

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