Airtel to woo data users through free internet

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Bharti Airtel to invest Rs.4,000 crore in Punjab
Bharti Airtel to invest Rs.4,000 crore in Punjab

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, the country’s biggest telecom operator, is set to offer free internet to subscribers for trial as the company looks to convert more users into ‘internet users’ to push up revenues and profits.

Data is gradually turning out to be the cash-cow of mobile companies, which have long been battling stiff competition in voice business, where prices are among the lowest in the world and margins are not big.

Airtel has sensed an opportunity here as despite having 210 million customers in its kitty, the company has only 40 million users on the internet. As per its estimates, 60 million additional users could join the data bandwagon as they have internet-capable phones but do not go on the web.

This is where it wants to step in — offer limited-period free trails for popular services like Facebook, Youtube, Snapdeal, Makemytrip and Twitter, along with tutorials. Once the user likes a service and wants more, the company will offer you dirt-free solutions — for example, pay Re 1 for using Facebook or Twitter for a day. This will be done as part of a new initiative — One Touch Internet.

“The launch of One Touch Internet is a simplification of how to use the internet. Pricing is intuitive, applications are free for trial and scores of applications have been curated in an easy to use interface. We believe every customer can be on the internet,” Airtel India CEO and MD Gopal Vittal told TOI.

The company has been trying to push up data usage through such initiatives and these include the ‘Re 1 Entertainment Store’, ‘myPlan’ and ‘Vernacular Airtel Live’ Portal.

Srinivasan Gopalan, director (consumer business), said he expects internet users and usage to go up through the initiative. “This will pull in subscribers, who currently do not access the net as they feel it is wasteful and of not much value or are worried about the cost.”

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