Bharti cuts 3G rates by up to 70%

Dylan Bushell-Embling
18 May 2012

In a move that could herald another round of undercutting and competition in India, incumbent Bharti Airtel has slashed its 3G data rates by up to 70%.

The operator has cut its base prepaid 3G browsing rate to just 3 paisa ($0.0005) per 10 Kb of data, from the previous rate of 10 paisa per 10 Kb, Times of Indiareported.

Bharti Airtel will also allow prepaid users to purchase 30 minutes of 3G data service - valid for 24 hours - for 10 rupees per day.

The offers will reportedly be made available to anyone who has not signed on to Bharti's 3G data services under a special offer.

The operator has also introduced top-up packages of between 200MB and 1GB, for post-paid users who have exceeded their monthly allocation.

Bharti Airtel holds 3G spectrum in 13 of India's 22 telecom circles, and had arranged to provide services in the remaining circles through a 3G roaming pact with rivals Idea Cellular and Vodafone, but the government last year indicated that such deals are likely illegal. This decision is currently under appeal.

Given Bharti Airtel's size and influence over the Indian telecom market, analysts expect rivals to follow suit with their own 3G tariff cuts, the Financial Expresssaid.

A major price drop may provide the impetus needed to stimulate 3G adoption in India. Currently only an estimated 12 million of India's 900 million mobile subscribers use 3G services.

But Indian mobile operators have a history of competingaggressively on tariffs, to the detriment of their margins and bottom-line.

Competition has been so intense that India's telecom minister last year warned that the industry risks destroying itself if operators continue fighting their mobile “war.”


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