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When Reliance Jio was launched back in 2016, millions of subscribers of other telcos such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea retained their existing numbers as the primary number beside enjoying the free services from Jio. However, the free and affordable voice calls and data benefits from the latest market entrant incurred losses to the other telcos.
Despite slashing the cost of their tariff plans and introducing combo plans with bundled benefits, the telcos are yet to surpass the competition posed by Jio. Given that there are minimum recharge plans, subscribers with Vodafone and Airtel SIMs tend to use their primary numbers only for receiving calls as the data and outgoing calls are more affordable on Jio.
Minimum recharge plans
Notably, Airtel and Vodafone are the first companies to come up with such minimum recharge plans for customers to keep their connections active. Both Airtel and Vodafone-Idea merger introduced recharge plans priced at Rs. 35, Rs. 65 and Rs. 95. All these plans offer 28 days of validity.
Why this move?
If the subscribers of these telcos do not recharge with these minimum monthly recharge plans, then their outgoing calls will be blocked in 30 days and incoming calls will be blocked in 45 days. Basically, this move is meant to weed out customers who did not contribute to the revenue of the operators. And, there are estimations that this move might result in up to 60 million subscribers giving up their second SIM in the next six months.
Many subscribers are using multiple SIM cards just for the sake of enjoying fewer benefits from different operators. As per a report by the Economic Times, there are nearly 1.2 billion telecom subscribers as of August 2018. Of these, 730 to 750 million users have single SIM cards and the others have multiple SIM cards. With the SIM consolidation move, there will be at least 30 million drop in the overall number of subscribers, claimed Rajan Mathews, the Director General of COAI.
Understanding this user behavior, the telcos other than Jio have come up with a plan to increase their average revenue per user (ARPU). The companies have introduced minimum prepaid recharge packs with a limited period validity.