Aircel Launches New Rate Plan To Meet WLL Challenge

Chennai: | Updated: Dec 24 2002, 05:30am hrs
Aircel Ltd, one of the cellular operators in Tamil Nadu circle (except Chennai metro) announced an aggressive pricing plan - Talk and Take on Monday. The plan, aimed at pre-empting Reliance Infocomms low priced schemes to be launched on December 28, will offer free talktime of 1,200 minutes per month for a period of five years on a down payment of Rs 19,500. Also, taking a cue from airline reward points, the scheme offers monetary compensation for outgoing airtime usage, based on certain conditions.

Existing Aircel customers will become automatically eligible for the reward programme without any payment.

We have spent Rs 550 crore in sprucing up our network and will further invest Rs 350 crore. We have upgraded our capacity from 2.5 lakh lines to 8.5 lakh lines, said the Sterling Group chairman C Sivasankaran at a press conference held in Chennai. Aircel Limited is owned by Sterling Group. The details of the scheme has been sent to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and no hurdles are expected from the regulator, he said. Officials declined to comment on the number of subscribers expected under the scheme but added that they would be able to make profits despite the aggressive pricing.

The reward will be computed at the rate of Re 1 per minute for outgoing airtime usage, taking into account the least number of outgoing airtime in minutes in any month during the 60 month period and multiplying it by Rs 60. The maximum reward shall not exceed Rs 20,400 and the offer will also be applicable to existing customers.

For the year ended March 2002, the firm has posted a net profit of Rs 40 crore (pre-tax Rs 60 crore) on a turnover of Rs 270 crore.

The group chairman said that the submarine cable project undertaken by the group is functional from the US to Japan. The Japan-Singapore stretch has been completed and will be operational shortly. The link to India will be operational by September 2003, he said. About Rs 180 crore has been invested in the project and a further Rs 540 crore would be raised from institutions.