Airtel postpaid plans costing more than Rs 499/month pack in more data and digital content for subscribers willing to shell out a tad bit more. (Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg)

Airtel Tweaks Postpaid Plans, To Phase Out Those Below Rs 499 Per Month

Bharti Airtel Ltd., India’s second largest telecom firm, has tweaked its postpaid strategy—it will gradually phase out postpaid plans of less than Rs 499/month and retain limited number of plans above it.

The tweak is aimed at simplification of Airtel postpaid plans, which would also help the company chase better realisation from mobile subscribers, improving the Average Revenue Per User.

Airtel postpaid plans costing more than Rs 499/month pack in more data and digital content for subscribers willing to shell out a tad bit more.

Essentially, Airtel has scrapped the Rs 299/month postpaid plan and is in the process of gradually phasing out the Rs 349/month and Rs 399/month postpaid plans. The number of plans above Rs 499/month will also be reduced to just three—Rs 749/month, Rs 999/month and Rs 1,599/month.

When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson declined to comment on the tweaks in the postpaid strategy.

As of Dec. 31, 2018, Airtel's mobile subscriber base in India stood at about 284 million.

While announcing its Q4 results on May 6, Bharti Airtel didn’t conduct an investor call and management commentary nor did it provide ARPU figures—a key metric tracked by analysts for gauging the health of a telecom firm.

A recent report by SBICap Securities, however, said Airtel had "done well" on ARPU as it seems to have improved about 20 percent sequentially in Q4, while rival Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd's ARPU declined about 3 percent during the same period.

On Monday, rival Vodafone Idea Ltd. reported that its ARPU in Q4 grew 16.3 percent to Rs 104, from Rs 89 in the October-December 2018 period.

"Subscriber traction is something that Bharti needs to pick up, as ARPU gains incrementally may be much lesser but may still continue, driven by upselling for low-end subscribers and 2G-to-4G upgrade," SBICap Securities said in a the report.