Postpaid, the new battleground for Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone

Postpaid, the new battleground for Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone

After rivals Jio and Airtel, Vodafone Idea got to third place by revenue market share (RMS) in the June quarter.

The postpaid mobile turf, presently dominated by India's older incumbent carriers, is all set to be the new battleground for the top telecom companies.

Analysts said, Reliance Jio Infocomm likely to set its sights on luring away these high-spending, revenue-generating customers from Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

Experts said high-end postpaid users make about 4-5% of the mobile subscriber base and generate 25% of mobility service revenues are with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. Mainly because of an endemic lethargy to move, the comfort level of regular customer service and better roaming deals.

But that scenario may soon change with the Mukesh Ambani's telco likely to disrupt the dormant postpaid market by bundling India's fastest home broadband service to these high-end mobile users and separately targeting customised enterprise offerings to drive additional gains in the postpaid business.

Jio's new Postpaid Plus initiative showed its intent to bundle fibre-based home broadband services to reinforce its postpaid business. Jio's broadband services will start on September 5.

Bharti Airtel is known to be trying its best to safeguard its postpaid and home broadband businesses by offering a host of sops and value-rich services to its top-end customers. But they believe Vodafone Idea's significant market challenges could get more prominent in the coming months.

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch said "Bharti is looking to retain its postpaid subscriber base through its loyalty programme, Airtel Thanks," which gives more value to consumers and tries to extract more ARPU, but "Vodafone Idea is more vulnerable to lose this (read: postpaid) market share," in a scenario where "it curtails investments in networks and exits a few loss-making circles".

After rivals Jio and Airtel, Vodafone Idea came to third place by revenue market share (RMS) in the June quarter, and experts see tough days ahead for the company as its dual-network integration strategy is yet to plug revenue leaks or heavy customer losses. It has lost 67 million customers since launching minimum recharge plans last year.

At press time, Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Jio did not reply to the queries.

"Jio remains hungry for customers and revenue share, and having dominated the prepaid platform, it will definitely try to replicate that success in the postpaid segment and also leverage its upcoming enterprise offerings to further boost postpaid business gains," Rohan Dhamija, partner & head of India & Middle East, Analysys Mason told.

BankAm-Merrill Lynch supported the view, saying it expects "competition to pick up in the high-end postpaid cellular space" especially once "Jio starts targeting the enterprise segment more meaningfully" in next few months.

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