We have long criticized airtel for sticking to low speed plans on their wired broadband platform.
However, in the recent times, the company has suddenly changed their complete strategy and they are increasingly launching high speed broadband plans in the metro cities.
This is however coming at a huge cost to their customers. Speeds are increasing no doubt, but they are coming with smaller data limits.
There was a time, when airtel was selling a 2mbps unlimited plan with no fair usage policy for around 3000 rupees. We have nothing like that available today. You get plans ranging from 3GB to 175GB. Higher speed plans with same data are priced higher. Airtel messes up the situation by not offering higher capacity plans at slower speeds.
They have just launched FTTH based plans in Delhi NCR. These plans are available at speeds of 16/40/80/100mbps. However, each of the plan has a rather embarrassing bandwidth limit:
100mbps plan comes with 175GB FUP
80mbps plan comes with 80GB FUP
40mbps plan comes with 80GB FUP
16mbps plan comes with 30GB FUP
I cannot subscribe to 16mbps plan with 175GB FUP to save money. They are forcing me to pay the premium for both speed AND bandwidth.
In any case, what is the point of having a high speed plan like this when you can finish up the available data within a matter of minutes? You can consume 30GB data at 16mbps in just around 250 minutes. If you are uploading at the same time, you can do it faster. 175GB at 100mbps can be consumed even faster in around 233.3 minutes!
Also… how many web services out there really require speeds these high? I would imagine downloading high definition videos. Do you really want to download a Blu-ray movie from the internet if the download itself is going to cost you around Rs. 750? This is assuming you are downloading a 25GB movie on the 100mbps plan.
Airtel wants me to believe that speed costs money. They fail to give documented proof that high speed plans cost them more money. What I got from the interview on MediaNama indicated that the company is using the excuse of upgrading the network to offer higher speeds as an expense justifying charging more for higher speed plans. That does not really mean that downloading 1GB at 100mbps is costing airtel more money than download the same 1GB data at 2mbps.
I understand airtel needs to recover the money for their investments in the network. But they really need to find a better way to do that. Why cannot they look at the long term benefits and create an ecosystem that encourages the user to go for more expensive plans? Stop charging a premium for every GB of data downloaded through your network. Increase your ARPU by making bandwidth cheaper encouraging your customers to go for better plans. Right now, they are squeezing folks like you and me forcing us to look at alternatives.
I seriously cannot wait for Mukesh Ambani to launch his LTE in Gurgaon. If the rumors are true, they are going to offer bandwidth at really affordable prices. And that alone might finally push me to discard my airtel wired connection and switch to a wireless one.
Update: here is something funny pointed out by @mgcarley
Airtel is charging less for one of the FTTH package compared to the DSL alternative. I imagine this is a mistake from airtel. Mistakes on tariff pages is a usual occurrence with airtel. I would not be surprised if the FTTH plan prices are changed in the next couple of hours!