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Is Google Ready to Invest in Vodafone Idea? Reports Indicate Google’s Latest India Push

Is Google Ready to Invest in Vodafone Idea? Reports Indicate Google’s Latest India Push

This comes at a time when Reliance Jio has secured more than $10 billion in investment from Facebook as well as private equity groups KKR, General Atlantic, Vista Equity Partners and Silver Lake.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 28, 2020, 6:39 PM IST

At a time when investment by tech companies and tech-focused investment funds in telecom companies seems to be in vogue, it is believed that Google may be considering investing in Vodafone Idea. If this investment was to go through, it would suit both parties quite well. Google will be able to battle rival Facebook on an equal platform, and it would give Vodafone’s struggling India arm a much needed boost.

Google is considering buying stake of about 5 per cent in Vodafone Idea, a partnership between the UK telecoms company and India’s Aditya Birla Group that has been under severe financial strain, reports the Financial Times. It is being reported that the process is at a very early stage. This comes at a time when Reliance Jio has secured more than $10 billion in investment from Facebook as well as private equity groups KKR, General Atlantic, Vista Equity Partners and Silver Lake.

There is an even greater emphasis on mobile services in India over the past few months as the country has been under multiple phases of lockdown due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Users are paying more than ever before for mobile data, and the situation has also given another push to digital transactions such as online shopping and digital payments. Important to note that Google also has the Google Pay digital payments app in India, competing with the likes of Paytm and PhonePe.

Vodafone Idea has not had the best of times recently, and is under serious financial strain in the uber-competitive Indian telecom space which has the world’s lowest tariffs. Vodafone Idea also has to pay the retrospective fees, as mandated by the Supreme Court.

In India, Vodafone Idea is competing with Reliance Jio and Airtel in the telecom space.




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Airtel Partners With Nodwin Gaming, Launches 'Airtel India Esports Tour’

Airtel Partners With Nodwin Gaming, Launches 'Airtel India Esports Tour’

The partnership is an attempt to further push the already booming esports industry in India.

  • Last Updated: May 28, 2020, 1:39 PM IST

Esports has kicked off rather well in India and to make good use of this opportunity, telecom operator Airtel has partnered with popular esports brand Nodwin Gaming. It is estimated that by 2021, online gaming will push the boundaries and will be valued over $1 billion in India with over 620 million gamers. Both Airtel and Nodwin want to be a part of the push and have announced the Airtel India Esports Tour.

It is said to be the first and largest property of its kind in this segment and will come with a national ranking and awarding system for Indian esports players. These will be based on the player’s year-long performance across tournaments and will be used as a base to create a points table for all participants.

“Nodwin Gaming believes that by binding the elements of independent tournaments into a single storyline we will give rise to a new culture in the competitive world of Indian esports. The teams and players will now look up to perform throughout the year rather than focusing on few big standalone tournaments in a year,” said Akshat Rathee, Founder and MD, Nodwin Gaming.

The Airtel India Esports Tour will initially cover all Nodwin tournaments across gaming titles of PUBG Mobile, CS:GO, Clash of Clans, FIFA, etc. Expect all popular Nodwin tournaments to be a part of the tour including India Premiership by Nodwin, Dreamhack India, The Northeast Cup, KO Fight Nights, PAN Fest and Nodwin operated tournaments in India. The tour will be broadcasted on Airtel’s digital platforms to expand the emerging format to newer audiences. Once the annual tour ends, a final leaderboard across games will be presented to recognize and reward the winners at an awards show.

Adarsh Nair, Chief Product Officer, Bharti Airtel said: “At Airtel, it has always been our aspiration to support a digital India. Gaming is the next frontier of entertainment and it gives us great pleasure to announce our partnership with Nodwin to unlock the potential of esports in India. esports is taking a higher share of where our youth spend their time and we look forward to a deep partnership with Nodwin to evolve this space and support the youth in India.”




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Airtel Payments Bank & Mastercard Team Up To Provide Financial Solutions For Farmers, SMEs

Airtel Payments Bank (APBL) has partnered with Mastercard to develop customized products catering to customers across the underbanked spectrum including farmers, small and medium enterprises and retail customers. As part of the Government’s vision of Digital India and Banking for every Indian, both entities have been working towards driving adoption of formal banking and digital payments in the country.

The collaboration will bring together Mastercard’s global and local experience in developing advanced financial solutions and Airtel Payments Bank’s strong distribution network to reach the last mile and its large customer base. The collaboration aims at building a digital platform which provides farmers with knowledge about advanced farming techniques and connection to marketplaces, while simultaneously enabling them to receive payments directly in their Airtel Payments Bank account.

Combined with 500,000 banking points of Airtel Payments Bank, the platform will provide farmers with access to neighbourhood banking, earnings stability and income growth. This will be a significant move towards building a cashless economy.

Both partners will also work together to create customized solutions for millions of small businesses across the country. These solutions will empower small and medium scale enterprises, who have limited access to finance, to make assisted payments, manage their financial & transactional processes, and also avail working capital in these times of crisis.

Finally, Airtel Payments Bank and Mastercard will work together to create differentiated card solutions, including solutions for contactless payments via NFC (Near Field Communication) for customers and merchants.

Anubrata Biswas, MD and CEO, Airtel Payments Bank said “..we aim to create products that will motivate customers to adopt formal banking behaviour and start opting for digital payments. These solutions will be an addition to our existing differentiated bouquet of easy, accessible and convenient banking and payment solutions to serve the underserved and unbanked population.”

Porush Singh, Division President, South Asia, Mastercard said, “These solutions will enable them to access a larger market base, receive payments easily into their bank accounts, safeguard their money against risks associated with cash and get easy access to credit. The partnership will also play an important role in achieving Mastercard’s goal to empower India’s merchants with digital payments acceptance infrastructure by the end of this year.

Airtel Payments Bank has been working with Mastercard for the last three years to offer Mastercard powered debit cards to its savings bank account customers in the country.



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Work From Home: Best 3GB Data Prepaid Plans From Reliance Jio, Airtel & Vodafone

The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has forced most of us to stay at home. The pandemic has also left most of us to work from home to maintain social distance. To meet the needs of such users, telcos have introduced new plans with increased data.

Here we have listed some of the best prepaid plans from Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone offering a minimum of 3GB daily data with additional benefits:

Reliance Jio

Jio is currently offering two plans for its customers with 3GB daily data. The Rs 999 plan offers 84 days of validity with a total of 252GB high-speed data (3GB/day) along with free unlimited Jio to Jio calls, 3000 minutes of calling to non-Jio numbers, 100 SMS per day and subscription to Jio apps.

Similarly, Jio also offers the Rs 349 plan offering similar benefits as the Rs 999 but with 28-days validity. So you get a total of 84GB high-speed data (3GB/day) along with free unlimited Jio to Jio calls, 1000 minutes of calling to non-Jio numbers, 100 SMS per day and subscription to Jio apps.

Airtel

Airtel also offers a bunch of prepaid recharge plans offering 3GB of daily data. First is the Rs 398 plan that offers 3GB daily data along with 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls. The total validity of this plan is 28 days. The Rs 598 plan also brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls but is valid for 84 days. There is also the Rs 558 plan that brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with a validity of 56 days.

Vodafone

If you have a Vodafone prepaid connection, there are a bunch of 3GB data plans for you. There is the Rs 558 plan that brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, along with 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with 56 days validity. To get slightly longer validity, the Rs 599 plan brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with 84 days validity.

Similarly, the Rs 398 plan brings 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with 28 days validity. There is also the Rs 399 plan that offers 3GB of high-speed daily data, 100 SMS per day, and unlimited calls with 56 days validity.



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Airtel Invests in Voicezen, an Early Stage AI Startup Working on Voice Technologies

Representative image. (Photo: Reuters)

Representative image. (Photo: Reuters)

Voicezen is the third startup to become a part of the Airtel Startup Accelerator Programme.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 1:41 PM IST

Bharti Airtel on Thursday said that it has acquired a 10 per cent stake in Voicezen, an early-stage startup focused on conversational AI technologies. The acquisition has been made by the company under its fast-expanding Airtel Startup Accelerator Programme, the company said in a regulatory filing.

“Acquisition of the equity shares of investee company is done at mutually agreed pre-money enterprise valuation. The said valuation is not disclosed herein due to reasons of confidentiality,” it said. Gurugram-based Voicezen has been working on developing advanced solutions that leverage machine learning, AI, speech to text and voice technologies to offer real-time analytics to help brands serve customers better.

“The investment will give Airtel preferred access to Voicezen’s technologies, which can be deployed across its customer touchpoints in multiple languages. These intelligent solutions will offer real-time analytics and insights to make Airtel’s conversations with its customers more engaging and frictionless and enable faster resolution. It will also allow Airtel to make contextual offers to customers based on real-time conversations,” the filing said.

Voicezen is the third startup to become a part of the Airtel Startup Accelerator Programme. Adarsh Nair, Chief Product Officer, Bharti Airtel said: “Voicezen has built some promising products that are very relevant for a market like India. As part of its strategy to deliver a highly differentiated service experience to its customers, Bharti Airtel has acquired a strategic stake in Voicezen, an early-stage start-up focused on conversational AI technologies.”

Apurba Nath, Founder of Voicezen, said that the startup helps brands deliver a better customer experience in Indian languages using ‘Conversational AI’. “Having worked on AI solutions in the past, Voicezen knew what works well in a lab most often doesn’t work in the real world, because either the training data is not large and relevant or the problem has little business significance,” he added.

“Our partnership with Airtel helps us solve these challenges. With this strategic investment, we will work even more closely with them to continuously improve our AI models and build out an enterprise-grade, battle-hardened product that will make customer interactions more efficient, especially in this post-COVID world where business operations are facing large disruptions,” he said.




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Airtel Brings Long-Term Prepaid Plan For Rs 2,498 Offering 2GB of Daily Data for 365 Days

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

The new Airtel Rs 2,498 prepaid recharge plan is now live on the telco’s website.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 11:57 AM IST

Airtel has launched a new prepaid plan for consumers looking for long-term validity. Priced at Rs 2,498 the plan offers a bunch of benefits including 2GB of daily data with a validity of 365 days. The plan also offers free Hello tunes and anti-virus protection for your smartphone. You also get free online courses for 28 days via Upskill with Shaw Academy.

Apart from the above benefits, customers get unlimited calls to any network, 100 SMS messages per day along with additional benefits like free Zee5 premium subscription, and Airtel Xstream Premium subscription. Customers also get Wynk Music prepaid subscription; and Rs. 150 cashback on FASTag.

Airtel also offers the Rs. 2,398 long-term validity pack which offers a similar validity of 365 days. This prepaid plan offers 1.5GB daily data, unlimited calls, and 100 SMS messages per day. It also offers similar additional benefits as the Rs. 2,498 prepaid plan including the 28-day free Upskill with Shaw Academy online courses. A similar Rs 1,498 prepaid plan also offers 365 days validity with unlimited calling and additional benefits, however, the data benefit is only 24GB in total, and SMS benefits include 3600 messages.

Reliance Jio offers a similar long term prepaid plan priced at Rs 2,399 offering 2GB of daily data with a validity of 365 days, unlimited calling to Jio numbers, 12,000 minutes of free calling to non-Jio numbers, 100 SMS per day and subscription to Jio apps.

Disclaimer:News18.com is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited that also owns Reliance Jio.




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Airtel Work@Home Data Plans Target Enterprise Users with Bundled Solutions

Representative image. (Photo: Reuters)

Representative image. (Photo: Reuters)

Airtel’s “Work@Home” offers wired & wireless, immersive collaboration tools, and security solutions that adhere to Indian regulatory norms.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 18, 2020, 3:14 PM IST

With work for home becoming the new normal for millions of Indian professionals amid COVID-19, Airtel Business, the B2B arm of telecom major Bharti Airtel, on Monday launched enterprise-grade “Work@Home” solutions designed to enable employees to operate efficiently and securely from their homes.

Airtel Work@Home offers a range of connectivity options — wired & wireless, immersive collaboration tools, and security solutions that adhere to Indian regulatory norms. “These are unprecedented times and businesses are adapting to the evolving environment with a new way of working. For a large proportion of employees, working from their homes is set to become the new normal,” Ajay Chitkara, Director & CEO-Airtel Business, said in a statement.

“Airtel Work@Home is yet another innovation to ensure that our B2B customers are able to empower their people with best-in-class connectivity and digital tools to drive business continuity,” Chitkara said. The product comes in the form of essential and add-on bundles and allows businesses to customise their own plans. It offers Airtel corporate broadband with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), the company said.

Plans such as the new one unveiled by Airtel is expected to grow in frequency in India, as many companies of varying sizes gear up to work from home for the long term. Many companies have already announced plans for most employees to continue working from home until the end of the year, and such long term arrangements will lead to increasing adoption of bulk home broadband plans to cater to the increased data requirements of users.

(With inputs from IANS)




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Jio’s New Rs 999 Prepaid Plan is What You Need to Work From Home

Image for representation

Image for representation

After announcing a new yearly prepaid plan, Jio now has a new 84-day validity plan offering 3GB data per day.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 15, 2020, 11:34 AM IST

Reliance Jio has announced yet another plan for its prepaid subscribers. Priced at Rs 999, customers get up to 3GB high-speed data per day valid for 84 days. This means a total of 252GB of data for the entire period, which is pretty decent. The company has placed it under its long-term plan high-data category for uninterrupted work from home during the nationwide lockdown.

Along with the data benefit, customers also get free and unlimited calls to Jio and landline numbers. For non-Jio numbers, customers get a total of 3000 minutes. Additionally, the plan offers unlimited SMS and complimentary subscription to Jio apps. Airtel also offers a similar 84-day validity plan offer 2GB of data per day, unlimited calling and 100 SMS per day limit at Rs 698. Vodafone, on the other hand, offers 4GB of daily data and unlimited calling with its Rs 699 recharge.

The telco had recently launched a new work from home annual plan that offers 2GB of data per day, as well as unlimited voice calls and SMS messages for 365 days, at Rs 2,399. This offers significantly more value than competitors in the Indian telecom space. Similarly priced plans by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea presently offer 1.5GB of data per day. As a result, while Jio’s plan offers 730GB of data through its validity period, other operators offer 547.5GB of data through the same period. This translates to 25 percent more data by Jio, than competitors.

DISCLAIMER: News18.com is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited that also owns Reliance Jio.




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Vodafone RED X at Rs 1099: With Netflix & More, This is Still Cooler Than Airtel Rs 999 Plan

Vodafone Idea has made some changes to its postpaid subscription plan pricing which now sees the premium RED X plan with a new price tag of Rs 1099 per month. Earlier, the RED X plan was priced at Rs 999 per month. At this time, the RED X plan offers unlimited data usage on 3G and 4G as well as unlimited local, STD and national roaming calls. With this price change, the Vodafone RED X plan becomes more expensive the Airtel postpaid plan Rs 999, but that admittedly also offers lesser bundled offers. The real reason why you might consider the Vodafone RED X plan, however, are the bundled value-adds—particularly if you want to get bundled subscriptions to streaming services and also if you are a regular traveler (at least you will be again once the COVID lockdowns are eased).

For starters, what you get is a Netflix subscription for a year—Rs 5,998 is added to your Netflix account and depending on the plan you have subscribed to, this amount is your free ticket to Netflix binge watching. At this time, Netflix offers a Basic plan for Rs 499 per month that offers standard definition streaming, a Standard plan for Rs 649 per month that offers high definition streaming and the Premium Rs 799 plan that gets Ultra HD 4K streaming as well. Streaming enthusiasts will also find that this plan bundles a year’s subscription to Amazon Prime priced at Rs 999 and that includes Amazon Prime Video as well as shopping benefits, one-year subscription to streaming app Zee5 as well as complete access to content on the Vodafone Play app.

The Vodafone RED X plan has a lot for regular travelers too. There is the option to get a 7-day iRoam roaming pack worth Rs 2999 complimentary for one year. This means one international trip in a year possibly will come with a free roaming package on your phone. When you get to the airport, there is the Lounge access, which gets you in at the International & Domestic airport lounges for no charge, 4 times per year. Vodafone RED X subscribers also get 10% off on bookings done via Hotels.com and 10% discounts on tickets booked for museums and attractions via Tiqets.

There are also international calling (ISD) tariffs that are offered exclusively to RED X users. Calls USA and Canada are charged at 50p per minute, calls to China and Hong Kong at Rs 2 per minute, calls Bangladesh and UK at Rs 3 per minute, and calls to Australia, Bhutan, Germany, Kuwait, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore and Thailand cost Rs 5 per minute.

Interestingly enough, Vodafone also says that RED X users will get priority 4G network with faster data speeds—but has not offered any details on how that works, whether it is higher bandwidth for the users or whether they get preferential treatment on the network.

In comparison, the Airtel postpaid plan which costs Rs 999 offers 150GB data per month, unlimited local, national and roaming calls as well as one-year of Amazon Prime subscription, Zee5 subscription, access to the Airtel Xstream app and the handset protection service.

But you must keep in mind that if you decide to switch away from the Vodafone RED X plan before completing 6 billing cycles, you may be charged an exit fee of Rs 3,000. Consider the 6-month window as a lock-in period for the bill plan.



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Best Prepaid Plans for Heavy Data Consumers: Jio, Vodafone and Airtel Packs Compared

Prepaid plans with extensive data limits are literally our lifeline right now, as we continue to work from home in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Data plans from Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio are among the most in-demand entities on the internet, since each of us have seen an increase in data consumption as a result of all the conferences, video calls and the likes. Data consumption has seen a massive increase as a large number of people are relying on it for office work as well as keeping in touch with our near and loved ones. Having said that, the telecom operators, of late, have been offering quite a respite by rolling out special recharge packs to help meet our data requirements.

Here is a list of all the best-prepaid recharge packs with their price, data benefits, and validity from Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, and Bharti Airtel.

Best Vodafone-Idea Prepaid Packs

Vodafone has rolled out various plans and all-rounder packs for its customers. The company is offering a prepaid recharge plan with a double data benefit for Rs 299. The pack comes with a 4GB data per day along with unlimited calling, 100 daily SMS for a validity of 28 days. The pack also includes a complimentary subscription to both Vodafone Play and ZEE5. The company also has two offers for Rs 449 and Rs 699 with a validity of 56 and 84 days respectively. It is important to note that both these plans also offer 4GB of data per day along with complimentary subscriptions Vodafone Play and ZEE5 as well.

On the other hand, users needing 2GB data per day can recharge with Rs 149 that has a validity of 28 days. This pack offers unlimited calls, 300 daily SMS, and complimentary benefits to both Vodafone Play and ZEE5.

However, if you don’t need 2GB data as well, then Vodafone also three recharge plan options for Rs 599, Rs 399, and Rs 299 that offer 1.5GB data per day for a validity of 84, 56, and 28 days respectively. These three plans offer 1.5GB Data per day, unlimited calls, 100 daily SMSes and complimentary subscriptions to Vodafone Play and ZEE5. There is a plan for customers who need 1GB data as well for Rs 219 that comes with a validity of 28 days. The pack offers unlimited calls, 100 SMS daily, complimentary benefits to Vodafone Play and ZEE5 as well.

Similarly, Vodafone also has a plan for Rs 379 that also offers 6GB of data, unlimited calls, 1000 daily SMS, and subscription to Vodafone Play and ZEE5 with an 84 days service validity. There are plans for high-end customers as well, with the company offering two prepaid recharge plans for Rs 1499 and Rs 2399. Both the pack comes with 1.5GB Data and 24GB Data per day, unlimited calling, 100 daily SMS for a validity of one year.

Best Reliance Jio Prepaid Packs

Just like Vodafone, Reliance Jio also is also offering a wide range of prepaid plans to recharge their phones with the most popular being for Rs 349 that offers 3GB daily data for a period of 28 days. The pack also has unlimited calling, 100 SMS per day, and a complimentary subscription to Jio apps. If you want lesser data, Jio has a Rs 249 monthly prepaid pack that offers 2GB data that comes with a validity for 28 days. The plan also offers unlimited voice calls to Jio-to-Jio and Jio to Non-Jio FUP of 1,000 minutes. The pack also provides 100 SMSes per day and comes along with a free subscription to various entertainment apps. The Rs 249 has a validity of 28 days. The other plan that offers 2GB data per day is the Rs 444 prepaid plan. The plan offers Jio-to-Jio unlimited calling benefits, Jio to Non-Jio FUP of 1,000 minutes. This prepaid plan has a validity of 56 days and it also provides 100 SMSes per day along with a subscription to various streaming apps. The third plan in line is the Rs 555 plan that offers 2GB data per day, 100smses per day, Jio-to-Jio unlimited calling benefits but it has a validity of 84 days.

Under the 1.5GB Data/day Packs, Jio has four prepaid plans for Rs 199, Rs 399, Rs 555, and Rs 2121 with a validity for 28, 56, 84 and 226 days. The company also has “Affordable Packs” plans for Rs 129 and Rs 1299 respectively with a validity for 28 and 336 days respectively. The Rs 129 pack offers 2GB of data, Jio to Jio unlimited calls, 300 SMS per day, and complimentary subscription for a period of 28 days. For the other plan of Rs 1299 under the “Affordable Packs”, users will get Jio to Jio unlimited calls, 300 daily SMS, 2GB of daily data, and a free subscription to Jio apps. The pack will be valid for 336 days. Similarly, Jio has one “Long Term” pack for high-end users for Rs 4,999 for a period of 360 days. The pack comes with unlimited Jio to Jio unlimited calls, 100 daily SMS, and 350GB data. The Jio plan comes with 12,000 minutes of calling from Jio to Non-Jio phones. Like all other plans, it comes with a complimentary subscription to Jio Apps. After the 350GB of high-speed data, browsing speed comes down to 64Kbps.

Best Airtel Prepaid Packs

Airtel is offering a pack for Rs 398 with a data validity of 28 days. The pack includes unlimited local, STD and roaming calls, 100 daily SMS etc. If you want lesser data, then the company is also offering a range of prepaid packs for Rs 149, Rs 179, and Rs 298. All these three packs offer 2GB of daily data, unlimited calls and complimentary subscription to ZEE5 and Airtel Xtreme Premium. There is another plan for Rs 349 that also offers 2GB of data, unlimited calls, complimentary subscriptions to Amazon Prime and ZEE5 for a period of 28 days. If you want even lesser, Airtel has two prepaid plans for Rs 249 and Rs 279 that offer 1.5GB of data as well as a subscription to ZEE 5 and Airtel Xtreme as well. Users subscribing to the Rs 279 plan will also get life insurance worth Rs 4 lakh. Airtel also has a prepaid plan for customers needing 1GB of daily data services. The pack which is valid for 28 days, offers unlimited calls, 100 national SMSes per day, and a complimentary subscription to Airtel Xtreme and Zee5. The Rs. 219 is the cheapest plan amongst the other plans that come with 28 days’ validity.

Just like Vodafone and Jio, Airtel also offers packs for its high-end users as well. For instance, there are two packs for Rs 1498 and Rs 2398. The Rs 1498 offers unlimited calling, 3600 SMSes, and 24GB data for 365 days. The Rs 2398 plan offers unlimited calling, 100 SMSes per day, and 1.5 GB per day under this plan that is a revised version of the Rs 1699 plan.