In a bid to compensate for saturating grow­th in the voice market, mobile operators have turned to data services in a big way. To this end, they are taking several initiatives to bring more users on board and enhance the data consumption of existing users.

Moreover, as a part of their data strat­egies, operators are increasingly targeting the youth, who are the biggest consumers of mobile data. For instance, many oper­ators have launched attractive night data plans that are aimed at customers in the age group of 18-30 years. Operators are also attracting customers through a variety of offers on entertainment-based applications. In addition, to ensure uninterrupted services, some operators have started offering the data loan service to their prepaid subscribers. takes a look at the recently launched data plans of select operators…

Bharti Airtel: Bharti Airtel has launched new data plans for its prepaid customers, under which customers can use extra mobile data at night. These packs, according to Airtel, will enable customers to save up to 30 per cent on their recharges as compared to the existing data packs. The double data offer is valid for packs ranging from Rs 186 to Rs 3,346.

Customers can upgrade their existing plans to avail of extra data benefits during night hours. For instance, currently, the Rs 259 prepaid data pack for customers in the Delhi circle offers 1 GB of 3G/4G data with a validity of 28 days. With the new double data pack of Rs 296, customers will get 2 GB data – 1 GB of 3G/4G regular data and 1 GB of night data.

Ajai Puri, director, market operations, India and South Asia, Bharti Airtel, states, “With the increasing smartphone penetration and the customer need to stay online round the clock, we are redefining the value proposition with our new double data packs. Customers can now do much more on our smartphone network without having to worry about exhausting their data limit.”

Earlier, in 2015, Airtel had launched a data cash back offer, under which customers used to get 50 per cent of the data they consumed between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. credited to their account every morning on a daily basis.

Airtel’s thrust on boosting data usage can be gauged from the increasing share of data services in its overall revenues. For the quarter ended March 2016, data accounted for around 23.3 per cent of the operator’s total mobile revenues, up from 17.6 per cent during the corresponding quarter in 2015. Further, while the voice ARPU declined steeply from Rs 151 to Rs 138 during the reported period, data ARPU rose from Rs 176 to Rs 196.

Vodafone India: The operator has lau­n­ched the Vodafone U plan for its prepaid customers, which, according to the company, is a “first-of-its-kind, lifestyle pr­o­­­position designed especially for the youth”.

The scheme  is available in two packs – Pack A for first-time Vodafone users and Pack B for the existing users. Further, it allows subscribers to segment and choose their data consumption pattern (during night and day) and pay accordingly. They can also avail of benefits such as data credit, free music downloads and attract­ive voice tariffs.

For instance, under the U Medium pack, priced at Rs 198, the subscriber gets 300 MB of 3G regular data, 150 MB of 3G night data (12 a.m. to 6 a.m.), and talktime of Rs 15 with a validity of 14 days. The plan allows users to select three other Vodafone customers through the My Vo­da­­fone application and calls to these new numbers can be made at Re 0.20 per mi­n­ute. The application also allows users to get a data credit of 60 MB on exhausting their data limit and the amount can be repaid on their next top-up. As an introductory offer, the operator is also offering two months of unlimited music download from the Vodafone Music application on the purchase of these U packs.

According to Sandeep Kataria, director, commercial, Vodafone India, “India’s 200 million-strong youth are optimistic, vocal, trendsetting and very social media savvy. Brought up in an ever-connected world courtesy the mobile revolution, today’s youth is extremely comfortable with technology and mobile phones play an important role in their lives. Vodafone U is thus designed to enhance this unique relationship between the youth and their mobile phones in a seamless and enriching way.”

Idea Cellular: The share of data services in Idea Cellular’s overall revenues in­creased from 17.7 per cent during the quar­ter ended March 2015 to 20.1 per cent during the quarter ended March 2016. In order to boost data traffic, Idea has introduced a new tariff plan that en­cou­­rages data consumption at night. The pack is priced at Rs 125 and offers 1 GB of 3G/4G data per month during night hours. According to the company, this new offering will help users save up to 50 per cent of their data costs.

In addition, the operator has launched day and night twin packs, which offer 30 per cent savings over the existing plans. These plans start from Rs 115 for 500 MB of 3G/4G data (250 MB in the day and 250 MB at night) and go up to 40 GB (20 GB in the day and 20 GB at night).

Reliance Communications (RCOM): RCOM has launched the DataLoan ­service for its 2G and 3G prepaid subscribers. By availing of this service, a subscriber with a low prepaid data balance can get an instant data top-up of 60 MB. The DataLoan service is priced at Rs 10, has a validity of two days and carries a transaction fee of Rs 2, which is recovered from the customer’s prepaid account over subsequent recharges.

According to Gurdeep Singh, chief executive officer, consumer business, RCOM, “DataLoan is an innovative solution that will provide greater convenience to our customers, assuring them of uninterrupted data services at any time of the day and night. This service will be extremely useful when customers run out of data balance at odd hours, during an emergency or when a physical recharge is not possible.”

RCOM is banking on high speed data services to drive its growth and the DataLoan service is one of the initiatives taken in this regard. Meanwhile, the operator is currently in the process of migrating its CDMA customers to its 4G

network and is likely to come out with more offers to boost 4G uptake.

Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL): TTSL has launched a Magic Recharge offer for its prepaid customers in the Rest of Maharashtra and Goa circle with the tagline “Accha Luck Sabka Haq”. As per the offer, customers will get a minimum of 1.1 GB of 3G data on a recharge of Rs 208. They will also stand a chance to win up to 10 GB of 3G data at no additional cost. The data pack will be valid for 28 days from the day of recharge.

Further, customers can do multiple recharges of Rs 208 to get the assured 1.1 GB data benefit multiple times and im­prove their chances of getting up to 10 GB of data free.

Praveg Gupta, senior vice-president, consumer business operations Rest of Maharashtra and Goa circle, TTSL, says, “We constantly aspire to delight our customers by introducing exciting products and services. Demand for data services has been continuously on the rise in the Rest of Maharashtra and Goa circle. The new recharge offer gives our customers not only a cost-effective data plan but also a chance to get up to 10 GB of 3G data at no additional cost.”


In a bid to increase their revenues in the highly price-sensitive Indian market, telecom operators have been coming up with innovative plans to increase data uptake. Further, with data consumption expected to accelerate owing to the rise in smartphone penetration and the launch of high speed 4G services, operators are likely to announce more such plans in the future.

Moreover, incumbent operators are like­­ly to launch attractive data offerings in an attempt to counter the possible im­pact on the market once Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited starts full-scale commercial operations. The latter is expected to price its data offerings aggressively and offer much higher speeds.