Bharti Airtel, Voda Idea take steps to offer relief to Covid-hit MSMEs

KOLKATA: Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel are coming up with multiple relief measures and customised combo offers for their small-business clients stung by the Covid-19-induced lockdown and plan to help them meet their digital requirements.

Besides rental waivers on select plans for micro, small and medium enterprises, the telcos will help manage their bandwidth needs and offer customised digital tools to boost their web presence.

According to industry estimates, about 20% of a telco’s enterprise business revenue comes from MSME customers.

“Vodafone Idea has waived rentals for audio-conferencing solutions and is offering it as a pay-as-you-use service to MSME clients… it’s also offering its product, WebBuddy, to bolster the web presence of these small businesses to help them address emerging business opportunities as they practice work-from-home operations,” Abhijit Kishore, the company’s director (enterprise business), told ET.

VIL’s PayGo audio-conferencing plans without rentals, he said, would continue beyond the lockdown to ensure the proposition links itself to the business growth of small and medium businesses.

Bharti Airtel will unveil new bundled plans aimed at helping MSMEs.

“Airtel will shortly announce multiple, flexi-plans for MSMEs, offering a mix of connectivity, video-conferencing and cyber security solutions, leaving it to the MSME clients to choose their preferred mix based on financial comfort,” a senior company executive aware of the plans told ET.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco, he said, is expediting steps to boost awareness among MSMEs about digital products and services available on the enterprise business and home broadband platforms for small/micro businesses and on how such technology adoption can help address business challenges and opportunities during the lockdown.

VIL’s Kishore said many MSMEs operating in agriculture have adopted the telco’s audio-conferencing solutions to engage with farmers. He said MSME clients with high data needs for limited periods are being urged to buy add-on data packs that are more cost-effective.

Telcos are encouraging clients with existing fixed-line connectivity solutions to go for quick cost-effective bandwidth upgrades and are supporting them with virtual private network access to empower their remote workforces.

Analysts said MSME customers, typically, buy leased-line connections to support high-speed internet connectivity for 10 to 12 users.

At press time, Reliance Jio and Airtel had not replied to ET’s queries.

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