Indian mobile operators go to war over mobile data

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There is a war going on between Indian mobile operators. India is the world’s second largest smartphone market. The instigator of this war is a new operator named Reliance Jio. In December 2015, India’s number of mobile phone subscribers crossed the 1 billion mark, making it the second country to achieve that feat. China is the only other country to have crossed that line before India, having accomplished the feat earlier in 2012.

Reliance Jio - Indian mobile operators

Indian mobile operators go to war

So, what is happening in India? Reliance Jio is a new mobile operator in India – a 4G LTE operator. Having run a trial service from December 2015, Jio commercially launched its 4G services in September, 2016. The operator launched with juicy tariffs that got the whole industry stirring. They launched with free unlimited voice and data packages. Bam.

The Price War

Similar to what happens here in Nigeria when one notorious network operator crashes tariffs and others react, other operators in India have responded to Jio’s moves. Airtel and Vodafone have slashed data tariffs. Another operator, Idea Cellular, has also bumped up its packages.

In effect, there is a scramble for the lowest tariffs possible. With a huge population of poor people, India is a price-sensitive market. But a price war is a terrible thing.

Airtel Bharti: Speed Racer

Airtel Bharti has decided that they do not have to play by Jio’s rules. The war won’t only be fought at tariff level. Airtel have taken it a notch up by offering better 4G LTE speeds than Jio and using that as a selling proposition. With Jio fast 4G broadband speeds that cap at 90 Mbps, Airtel has announced a turbo service that enables peak download speeds of up to 135 Mbps.

In effect, Airtel Bharti is offering an alternative to India’s teeming mobile users: “Want faster speeds, come to us!” Everyone else looking for the cheapest tariffs can run after Jio. Not a bad strategy, considering the simmering price war. Airtel Bharti was the first mobile operator to offer 4G services in India from way back in 2012 and will battle tooth and nail not to give a foothold to the newbie.

To Infinity And Beyond

It sure is interesting days in India’s mobile broadband market. Meanwhile, as the other players in the industry scheme and execute to stay in the loop and not lose subscribers to the new entrant, Reliance Jio has already acquired over 1.5 million subscribers.

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