Just when you thought India has the cheapest mobile data plan rates in the world, Airtel is preparing to hike the prices behind the scenes. At a recent book launch event, Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal reportedly asked customers to ‘prepare to pay a lot more’.
According to a PTI report, Mittal said that offering 16GB of data per month at Rs.160 is a tragedy. He further wants customers to consume 1.6GB per month at Rs.160. Doing the math, that translates to 1GB at Rs.100 and it reminds me of the infamous pre-Jio era.
“You either consume 1.6 GB of capacity per month either at this price point or you may prepare to pay a lot more. We are not wanting $50-60 like the US or Europe but certainly $2 for 16 GB a month is not sustainable,” Mittal was quoted as saying by PTI.
According to Mittal, the company needs Rs.300 average revenue per user (ARPU). He mentioned that Airtel’s ARPU is likely to cross Rs.200 in six months and Rs. 250 would be ideal. As of June 2020, PTI reports that the ARPU of Airtel is at Rs.157, as a result of the price hike in December 2019. In case you’re wondering, Reliance Jio’s ARPU is at Rs.140.3 per month.
“We need a Rs 300 ARPU in which you will still have lower end at Rs 100 a month with decent amount of data. But if your consumption is largely around watching TV, movies, entertainment and depriving other vital special services networks, then you need to pay for that,” he added.
This is a clear indication of an imminent price hike from the brand. It will be interesting to see if other competing mobile network operators such as Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio would follow Airtel’s lead.