July 19, 2019

Airtel takes up Safaricom in a fresh war of data pricing

Airtel CEO


By Charles Gitonga


Price wars in the mobile internet market are getting fiercer as Airtel Kenya unleashes a triple threat bundle service, aimed at growing its market share in Kenya.

The second largest telecommunications firm has today launched ‘unlimi-net’, a bundle service comprising of data, voice calls and short messaging services (sms). The permanent product will see Airtel airtel-new-logo-horisubscribers spend as little as Ksh.50 per day which will guarantee them 100 megabytes of data, 20 minutes of talk time to any network and 100sms also to any network.

The highest priced unlimi-net bundle will cost a customer Ksh.2,000, from 6 gigabytes of data, 1,200 minutes of talk time and 10,000 sms to any network. This product is inclusive of unlimited access to social applications and networks such as Whatsapp, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and Instagram.

“The internet is an essential part of our everyday life. As a user, one wants constant and affordable supply of internet so as to remain connected to loved ones, study and work efficiently and get updated with local and international news and events. Airtel UnlimiNET is designed to enable Airtel customers remain connected to their social and professional networks all day without worrying about MBs running out,” said Airtel Kenya’s Managing Director Adil El Youssefi.

Safaricom, which has the lion’s share of the market offers 40 megabytes for Ksh.50, 200 megabytes for Ksh.200, and 1.5gigabytes for Ksh.1,000. This is not inclusive of sms and voice calls which are charged separately.

Launch of unlimi-net establishes a new platform for price wars in the mobile data market which has been expanding at high rate thanks to smartphone penetration of 70 per cent. .

Mobile operators have been training their eyes on the explosion of mobile data to drive revenues and grow customer numbers. A sector report by the Communication Authority for the last quarter of 2014 indicates that mobile data subscriptions grew, by 5.9 per cent to 14.7 million subscribers in that period. Of these, Safaricom has 10.5 million while Airtel has 1.9 million users. Airtel is hopeful that its new product will help it grow its subscription base.

“Our customers have responded very well to the various pocket friendly and valuable offers we’ve placed in the market lately,” added El Youssefi.

Combined services inclusive of data, voice and sms is now likely to be the next phase of growth and competition in the telecommunications sector.

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