Airtel’s decision of ending lifetime free incoming plan for prepaid connections will reportedly result in it losing around 50-70 million customers. The telecom operator has asked prepaid users to maintain a minimum balance of Rs 35 if they want their Airtel connection to remain active.

According to HinduBusinessLine, a senior executive told publication that Airtel is not worried about the loss and believes that this step will generate more average revenue per user (ARPU) as many of the SIMs acquired under that plan were not being used. “I think we may shed a few customers — 50 million to 70 million — as some of them may not exist at all or these could be second SIMs. That’s ok… why carry the burden?” the executive told publication.

Further answering to reporter query of how Airtel will acquire new customers, the executive said that customers moving from feature phones to 4G smartphones present an opportunity to increase ARPU by giving better services and more content partnerships.

Airtel announced the change in October because the company analyzed that lifetime free incoming calls plan for prepaid customers do not bring anything for them as consumers aren’t paying for outgoing either. As per report, the ARPUs of Airtel, Idea and Vodafone dropped drastically after Reliance Jio‘s entry in 2016. In last quarter (Q3) this year, the Airtel and Vodafone-Idea’s ARPU stood at Rs 100 and Rs 88 respectively.

Not just Airtel, even Vodafone-Idea recently replaced its existing lifetime free plans with ‘limited validity’ plans. Now Vodafone consumers not recharging their prepaid connections will not be able to receive incoming calls after a month.

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