Jio effect: non customers too gain as Airtel kills national roaming charges, cushions overseas travel bills

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Updated: February 28, 2017 10:27:04 AM

Bharti Airtel Ltd on Monday said that it has removed additional charges on voice, SMS and data usage on national roaming, ostensibly in an effort to retain users in the wake of the new entrant Reliance Jio’s free voice and data services.

Also, there will be no additional data charges on national roaming. Home data packs for customers will apply even while they roam across India, Airtel said. (Image: Reuters)

Bharti Airtel Ltd on Monday said that it has removed additional charges on voice, SMS and data usage on national roaming, ostensibly in an effort to retain users in the wake of the new entrant Reliance Jio’s free voice and data services.

“Airtel customers roaming within India will enjoy free incoming calls/SMS and there will be no premium on outgoing calls allowing them to speak freely wherever they are within the country,” Bharti Airtel said in a statement. “Also, there will be no additional data charges on national roaming. Home data packs for customers will apply even while they roam across India,” the statement added.

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Reliance Jio, which will start charging regular tariffs from April 1, too, does not levy any national roaming charges on use of its mobile services anywhere in the country outside the home circle.

“This marks the death of national roaming and the whole country will now be like a local network for our customers, who will not have to think twice before making or receiving calls or using data while traveling outside their home base,” Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said in the statement.

Meanwhile, for those customers travelling overseas, Airtel has introduced an automatic adjustment facility, which seeks to prevent the users from steep roaming charges on international networks. Under the facility, the user will be automatically moved to the respective country’s 1-day tariff plan upon hitting the price of one-day pack, Bharti Airtel said.

As examples, Airtel explained: “When a customer traveling to the USA without a pack hits the threshold of Rs 649 (the price of the one day pack for USA), he/she will automatically move to the one day pack with free incoming calls/SMS, 100 India and local country outgoing minutes, 300 MB data and a host of other benefits. Similarly, a customer traveling to Singapore will move to the one day pack the moment his/her usage hits the Rs 499 mark.”

Bharti Airtel offers international roaming packs with varying validity options, such as 1 day, 10 days, 30 days, etc. with free incoming calls/SMS, local and India calling minutes and texts, and data. The new facility would be specially useful for the users who fail to subscribe to a respective roaming pack, and make their travel with active international roaming charges, Bharti Airtel said.

Bharti Airtel’s Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal called upon the telecom industry to cut international roaming charges. “As an industry, operators across the world must collaborate to remove the cost barrier to roaming and offer customers the convenience of staying connected without the fear of exorbitant bill charges,” Sunil Mittal said.

At the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Sunil Mittal posted the following video message:

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