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Airtel’s 500 percent airtime bonus receives lukewarm reception

27 June, at 15 : 26 PM Print

m_Airtel’s 500 percent airtime bonus receives lukewarm reception

Mukandahiro Juliet has only 20 Airtel contacts out of the 550 numbers saved in his phonebook. On a daily basis, Mukandahiro finds himself calling numbers from other networks and moreover, even the 20 Airtel contacts have other network numbers.

This implies that a mega call tariff promotion on on-net network by a telecom with low number of subscribers compared to the other will still have lesser impact with their on-net promotion.

“I don’t believe this promotion will be of an impact to me, many contacts I use are on other networks and some cannot switch,” said Jovani Higiro, an accountant in Kigali on Monday.

On Monday, the country’s third operator by subscriber base, Airtel introduced an instant 500 percent bonus airtime on all top-ups or recharges made through their Airtel Money platform.

For instance, a prepaid client who buys airtime worth 1000RWF using Airtel money platform will be rewarded with 5000RWF bonus Airtime, but only used on Airtel to Airtel calls.

“Restricting you to call only Airtel numbers with this much bonus is putting me on a test like a subscriber,” he added.

But the operator says the promo is aimed at bringing un matched products that would help clients meet their every telecom and lifestyle needs.

“At Airtel, we are obsessed with providing un-matched product and service offerings to delight our customers,” said Indrajeet Singh, Airtel Commercial Director during the launch.

Singh notes that the bonus is another testimony of the company’s commitment to empower, excite its royal customers with innovative and exclusive offerings.

He adds, “The 500 per cent bonus promo is also a way of thanking Airtel Subscribers for using our network.”

But experts say that the mega bonus should not be underestimated especially in the market where subscribers’ choice to use a network is driven by the lowest tariffs.

“What matters to a client is how much they are paying to make call, so they can switch lines in just a second,” said Job Opar, consumer behavior specialist.

With lack of number interoperability in the country, clients have to carry at least two out of the three telecom numbers to minimize off net call charges, and will always switch from one network to the other in search of cheaper call rates.

“It is such promotions that have gradually changed our telecom market and forced them (telecoms) to cut their call tariffs,” he added.

Moreover, Airtel shook the sector with the lowest call tariffs since it joined the market in 2012 taking the market leader MTN Rwanda and Tigo Rwanda by the horns to introduce off net call packs.

By end of December 2015, Airtel had already eaten up over 3 percent from MTN Rwanda’s subscriber base and taking over as second best internet provider after Tigo Rwanda.

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