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Bharti Airtel slashes 3G prices in India

Telco cuts 3G mobile broadband rates by more than 70 percent to attract new customers and kickstart local uptake of such services, report states.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

Bharti Airtel has cut mobile broadband rates on its 3G networks by more than 70 percent to increase usage of data services in the country.

Volume-based browsing rate on 3G decreased from 10 paise, or 0.01 rupees, per 10 kilobyte (KB) to 3 paise, or 0.003 rupees, and this rates will be applicable from May 17 to customers that have yet to subscribe to 3G services, the Times of India reported Thursday.

There will also be special tariff for prepaid users starting at 10 rupees (US$0.18), giving them 30 minutes of Internet access on its 3G network with one day validity. Airtel 3G prepaid users can also buy 3G high-speed Internet service, starting from 45 rupees (US$0.83) per 150 megabytes (MB) and valid for seven days, to 1,500 rupees (US$27.53) for 10 gigabytes (GB) for a period of 30 days.

The company also announced "smartBytes" for 3G post-paid users who tend to exceed the monthly data, and the subscription package costs between 80 rupees (US$1.47) for 200 MB to 300 rupees (US$5.52) for 1 GB.

3G services was introduced by private telcos in India in 2010 but had failed to gain traction because of slow speeds and patchy connectivity. Analysts had previously mentioned this is due to the cautious rollout over its limited spectrum, poor data traffic and uncertainty over network investment.

Hopes of improving 3G services were not helped when India's Telecom Commission authorized 2G spectrum sharing but not 3G in February, thus forcing operators to stop sharing resources. The government had earlier announced that 3G roaming deals had been illegal and must be terminated immediately, forcing the telcos to respond by writing to the country's prime minister for a refund of the money spent to acquire 3G spectrum should the decision be upheld.

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