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Jio data offer unsustainable, acknowledges Airtel

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MUMBAI: Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile operator, has opined that the new tariff announced by Reliance Jio was very aggressive and unsustainable, and the industry would respond to it with additional data offerings and more competitive plans.

Yesterday Airtel anounced waiving of roaming charges to compete with free roaming and voice calls offered by Jio. The Mukesh Ambani-led Jio has not only promised to match the best mobile data usage plan in the market but add 20 per cent to it.

Tariffs that they (Jio) announced were still very aggressive, which meant they got to respond. They all got to do more packages... they had to throw in more data. All those things need to be done, PTI reported Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal telling the press.

Jio, which has invested USD 25 billion on its 4G wireless data network, will terminate free data plans from 1 April, but has offered consumers the option of signing up for a Jio Prime membership for Rs 99 to continue using unlimited services for a year by paying Rs 303 every month.

Acknowledging that Jio's plan to start charging customers was "good news" for operators, he said it however, would not signal the end to tariff war. Good news was that eventually they announced that they would. But yes, it was the pricing which was unsustainable.

Mittal, who is also the chairman of global industry body GSMA, recommended consolidation for the Indian telecom industry to "get the economic case back", pitched for affordability in spectrum pricing that has gone "out of control" in the last few years, and said the spectrum surplus industry would not need an airwave auction, at least in 2017-18.

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