Airtel changes validity plans for existing customers


Chennai: Bharti Airtel, one of India’s largest telecom carriers, has silently rolled out a change in its plans for existing customers. By the new regulations, customers will need to constantly recharge to avoid termination of their services.

By October-end, Airtel had revised its plans which took away validity from its customers amounting to years. From now on, customers need to recharge their numbers within 15 days after their outgoing validity gets over in order to hold ownership of their numbers.

The news was confirmed by Airtel when News Today contacted it.

Experts stated that the move by Airtel was expected as the advent of Jio into the industry saw the average revenue per user (ARPU) plummet. The company’s ARPU as of March quarter was at Rs 116.

MD and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, Gopal Vittal, earlier this year, said pricing levels and ARPU have reached rock bottom and can only move up.

“I think we have hit the bottom in terms of ARPUs and pricing. I think both have to lift from here and given this industry structure, it will lift. At the end of the day, we want a profitable and sustainable market share,” Vittal had said.

As per his intimation, pricing has risen to comparable levels with the telco providing different plans to cater to all types of customers. What people did not see coming was Airtel’s move to terminate services for a customer if they failed to recharge within the stipulated time-limit.

The official who spoke to News Today admitted to the changes but did not reveal the reason as to why Airtel chose to go ahead with its new plans. “We were notified about the changes. We are yet to hear from our peers regarding the validity situation. We will contact our customers soon if we see that a clarification is in order,” said the official.

Airtel was in the news for controversial reasons in late 2016 and early 2017, when Jio was comparatively new, for allegedly not aiding calls from the Mukesh Ambani-led telco to make use of their transmission towers.

Telecom regulator Trai, however, intervened and sorted the problem out with Airtel and a few other telcos who were found using similar strategies.

It is now expected that the move from Airtel will also lead other telcos to follow suit. Further, experts stated that only time will tell if Airtel’s move will increase the firm’s ARPU.

SHARES FALL 2.5%

Shares of Bharti Airtel fell by 2.5 per cent Friday after Moody’s Investors Service placed the company’s rating on review for downgrade.

The stock declined 2.45 per cent to end at Rs 298.45 on BSE. The stock was the worst hit among the blue chips on both the key indices.

On Thursday, Moody’s Investors Service placed Bharti Airtel’s rating on review for downgrade, following low levels of profitability and expectation of weak cash flow.

“The review for downgrade is primarily driven by our expectation that Bharti’s cash flow generation will remain weak and leverage elevated,” Moody’s VP and senior credit officer, Annalisa DiChiara, said.