Airtel Kenya has introduced highly subsidized calling tariffs, sparking a fresh price war with its rival Safaricom for the low-income market, commonly referred at as the hustler segment. The new bundle plan gives subscribers 100 minutes of talk-time daily at a subsidized price of between Ksh5 and Ksh10 for on-net calls.
It is seen as a direct response to Safaricom’s Flex plan, launched recently, with various plans that gives felxible bundles on calls, sms and data, daily, weekly and monthly. The battle for the low-income market has opened a new war front for mobile operators, with the target being retaining subscribers and winning new callers from rival networks.
Under the Airtel’s Tubonge plan, calls to other networks will cost only Ksh2 per minute, the cheapest off-net rate in the mobile market, but in a typical culture of discouraging calls to other networks.
Airtel customers will have three choices of daily at Ksh10, weekly for Ksh50 or monthly bundles at Ksh150. At the expiry of 100 minutes talk-time the subscriber will be automatically switched to the off-net rates, which will apply universally to all networks.
Airtel Managing Director Prasanta Das Sarma said Tubonge bundles offer an affordable option to their voice-call customers who make up to 70 per cent of Airtel’s subscribers. “Our aim is to simplify life for our customers and make value for their money,” he said. “70 per cent of our customers mostly use voice-call service and we aim to make them feel at home, and even attract more.”
The bundle will run alongside Airtel’s Unliminet bundles which runs for Ksh50 per day, Ksh250 per week and Ksh1,000 monthly. A daily pack on the Unliminet tariff gives 50MB data, 10 minutes Airtel to Airtel talk time, 10 minutes talk time to other networks and 100 SMSs to any network whereas the weekly pack yields 350MB data, 50 minutes Airtel to Airtel talk time, 50 minutes talk time to other networks and 500 SMSs to any network.
For the monthly pack on the Unliminet tariff the customer enjoys 2GB data, 400 minutes across all local networks and 2000 SMSs. All the packs offer free Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter.