Overseas travellers can now expect a hassle-free travel as telcos are now looking to regain the lost ground through reduced international roaming rates and convenient services. Now, the visitors can think of bidding goodbye to additional spending on buying a different SIM card and then worrying about data exhaustion.
Unlimited data, reduced rentals, no speed throttling, 24×7 customer care helpline, emergency data services at reduced costs, among others are some of the announcements made by the telecom operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to add to their revenues from the international roaming segment. Currently, the segment contributes less than 3% of the telcos’ total revenues.
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“The whole objective of slashing international roaming rates by 99% is to make our customers travel fearlessly abroad without worrying about the need to switch off mobile data. With cheaper data and voice services than Matrix, and boost in tourist traffic will give us a lead in this segment,” an Airtel executive said on the condition of anonymity.
Recently, the Sunil Bharti Mittal-led telecom operator launched ‘Airtel World Pass’, a single plan for traveling to 184 countries, doing away with the need for multiple packs required to travel across multiple countries.
Simply put, for people who want to first go to the UK and then Saudi Arabia, will not be required to buy different plans for both countries as everything will be managed under one plan. Under the world pass, the new postpaid plans range between Rs 649 and Rs 14,999 with validity ranging from 1 to 365 days. The new pre-paid plans will cost between Rs 649 to Rs 2,997 with the validity ranging from 1 to 365 days.
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The company is now offering the basic international roaming data rates at Rs 1,500 per GB and voice rates at Rs 10 per minute. “Even for Airtel customers who forget to take a roaming plan before traveling abroad also will have access to affordable data services at Rs 1,500 per GB compared to Rs 600,000 per GB charged by a few operators till now,” the Airtel executive added.
According to industry experts, the telcos’ new offerings of international roaming will help them attract high quality postpaid users. “While the travel was happening two years back as well, during Covid it was badly affected and now a trend called ‘revenge travel’ has been introduced which makes up for good opportunity for telcos to bank on,” an industry executive said, adding that the present Covid situation might weaken the sentiment for sometime.
Vodafone Idea also added ‘truly unlimited data and voice experience’ over its international roaming plans largely to retain the postpaid users. “We saw huge growth in IR (international roaming) pack consumption this year indicating that leisure travel is back with a vengeance,” an executive at Vodafone Idea said, adding that countries such as the US, Europe, Turkey, Dubai, are most prominent destinations.
The company’s postpaid plans range between Rs 599 and Rs 5,999 with validity ranging from 24 hours to 28 days.
In comparison, while Airtel offers a single plan for 184 countries, Vodafone Idea covers 81 countries with a single plan. On customer helpline, while Airtel offers a single helpline support with features like real-time data and voice tracking, Vodafone Idea has circle-wise different helplines.
For postpaid users, Vodafone provides both unlimited data and voice, whereas Airtel only offers unlimited data and has voice quota with more validity.