Reliance Jio impact: Bharti Airtel makes incoming calls free on intl roaming

By: | Published: September 29, 2016 3:38 AM

Making incoming calls on international roaming free will not hurt the company since international pacts are done on the basis of barter deals.

 

Analysts said that Bharti Airtel’s move is sure to be followed by Vodafone and Idea Cellular shortly. (PTI)Analysts said that Bharti Airtel’s move is sure to be followed by Vodafone and Idea Cellular shortly. (PTI)

Continuing with its series of new tariff packages to counter competition from Reliance Jio Infocomm, the country’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Wednesday made incoming calls free on international roaming for its subscribers travelling to popular destinations like the US, Canada, the UK and Singapore. Though revenue from international long distance is quite low — less than 5% — for mobile operators, the move is seen by analysts as a means to stop the churn of its high-paying consumers, who run up a monthly bill upwards of R10,000.

Making incoming calls on international roaming free will not hurt the company since international pacts are done on the basis of barter deals. This means that the subscribers of overseas operators will also not be charged for incoming roaming if they roam on Bharti’s network in India. Analysts said that Bharti’s move is sure to be followed by Vodafone and Idea Cellular shortly.

The incumbents would have an edge over Jio in international roaming because overseas operators do barter deals based on subscriber base and a new entrant takes time in cutting deals.

International roaming rates are prohibitively costly. On an average, incoming calls are billed at around Rs 50 per minute, outgoing at Rs 150 per minute and SMSes at Rs 15 each.

What Bharti has done is that it is offering international travellers a daily pack and a monthly pack for Rs 649 and Rs 4,999 rentals, respectively, for the US, Canada and the UK. After subscribing for the pack, all incoming calls will be free, outgoing to India as well as local will be charged at Rs 3 per minute after 100/400 free minutes, while data charges will be at Rs 3 per MB against the normal Rs 650 per MB. With the holiday season around the corner, it plans to launch a 10-day validity pack by mid-October for about Rs 2,990.

This is the second time that Bharti is making such a move during the year. It first launched this scheme in April but that time there was no daily pack so minimum charges were high at around Rs 2,500-5,000 for a monthly pack. Normally, consumers do not travel for such long period so the pack was seen as unattractive.

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