The understanding behind a consumer’s choice to opt for a prepaid plan with their network provider is for better value, as well as the fact that they prefer to enjoy the freedom of controlling their data allocations and consumption. But in an industry where the prepaid service offerings are very restricted, how much freedom are consumers really getting?
On average, the Sri Lankan prepaid consumer purchases up to 15 reload cards each month, to fully satisfy their data and voice requirements. These reloads account for a multitude of data packages as well as top-ups, which are highly likely to include a separate package for data- further segregated to day time and night time, social media, video conferencing apps and even for video streaming apps.
Due to this, the prepaid concept has become an extremely compartmentalised path for most consumers. Every month, Sri Lankan prepaid users purchase over 90 million reload cards, which is over 3 million reloads each day, and the idea of ‘freedom’ is becoming almost non-existent in terms of practicality, with a long-term strain on affordability.
However, bringing an international prepaid concept which addresses these pain points, Airtel Lanka, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti Airtel, introduced the ‘Airtel 4G Freedom Packs’, offering customers a month’s worth of data, voice and SMSs through a single reload package, eliminating the need to purchase additional data packages.
The four Freedom Packs are distinctly priced at Rs.999, Rs.599, Rs.399 and Rs.199, offering 2GB/day (60GB), 1GB/day (30GB), 500MB/day (15GB) and 1GB of data (only), respectively. This Anytime Data is provisioned through a daily quota which runs for 30 days. These packages also provide unlimited Airtel-Airtel talk time, 1000 Airtel-Airtel SMSs and 50 local SMSs throughout their validity. For off-net calls they offer 300 minutes, 300 minutes, 200 minutes and 100 minutes respectively.
But how do these packs stand against what other providers offer?
Among the three other key providers in the country, the overall data offering around the Rs.999 price point ranges from 15GB (Anytime) to 24GB (Day time/Night time). Apart from the significantly lower data allocation, none of these packages offer voice or SMS bonuses.
Around the Rs.599 price point, customers can expect between 10GB (Anytime) and 17GB (Day time/Night time) of data through other providers, still excluding any voice or SMS bonuses. The Rs.399 price point range similarly offers between 5.5GB (Anytime) to 7.6GB (Day time/Night time), without voice or SMS services.
While the most value in data, voice and SMS, as well as the choice to use the data for anything is offered to the consumer through Airtel’s 4G Freedom Packs at the moment, other providers have not yet announced any plans of launching any similar packages.
This new way of offering affordable and refined networking capabilities to the end-consumer will undoubtedly shift the paradigm in the local prepaid ecosystem, and create a competitive atmosphere for network providers to introduce refreshed and refined packages with maximum value focused towards the consumer.