Bharti Airtel is not a price point player in 3G service

Bharti Airtel is not a price point player in 3G service

"There are market segments that have different needs. Pricing plans to have to meet that. But we are not a price player per se," Atul Bindal, president of the mobile services division, told IANS while launching the service in Chennai and Coimbatore here.

He said offering 3G services at 2G data service rates was not similar to offering the 2G voice service below cost. Some industry players are accusing others of undercutting the rates by offering the mobile voice service below cost.

"The 3G tariff plans should be such that the whole new category is allowed to grow," Bindal added. Bharti Airtel has three types of tariff schemes for its new service - Sachet, Standard and FlexiShield. The sachet plan is available in three price points - Rs.8, Rs.45 and Rs.63-with a validity of one to 10 days.

This plan is to enable subscribers to experience the 3G service and then go in for higher plans. Under the Standard Plan, the company offers both pre-paid and post paid schemes starting at Rs.100 (100 MB data usage) and going up to Rs.751 for a data usage of 2GB with a validity of 30 days.

The third plan is a hybrid of free data usage subject to a ceiling of 1.25GB. The company will charge 0.10 paise per MB over and above the free limit. Once the customer usage touches a total bill of Rs.2,000, the download speed is restricted though the subscriber is not charged even if he uses the service.

Speaking about mobile number portability (MNP) - the facility of subscribers to migrate to competition without changing their phone numbers - Bindal said Bharti Airtel would not be affected either in the corporate or retail segments. "Actually MNP is an opportunity for corporate customers to shift to integrated players who offer voice, broadband, 3G and other services. In Haryana, where MNP was initially offered, we are net positive," he said, declining to share numbers as to how many subscribers left the company's network and how many new were added.

Declining to answer the query as to when the company expects to recover the Rs.12,000 crore (3G licence fee for 13 circles) plus other investments towards network upgradation, marketing, branding and others, Bindal said: "The growth percentage of revenue from non voice service will be higher. There will be improvement in the margins."
"Our average revenue per user (ARPU) is one of the highest in the industry which in turn means we have more higher end customers than others. This is a potential base for 3G service," Bindal said.

He also declined to give any numbers of expected subscribers for the new service and how many of the company's existing subscribers were likely to migrate to 3G. On rollout plans for 3G, he said the company would offer the service in 40 centres by this March; by March 2012, the service would be available more than 1,500 cities and towns.

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