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General News Reliance Jio effect: BSNL to launch free unlimited mobile calls plan at Rs 149
NEW DELHI: Mobile phone subscribers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will soon be able to make unlimited local and national voice calls to any network for Rs 149 a month.

The new monthly tariff plan, expected to be introduced on January 1, will help the state-run telecom service provider compete with Reliance Industries’ telecom arm Reliance Jio Infocomm, whose entry is seen causing disruption in the country’s telecom sector.

Mumbai-based Jio’s Rs 149 plan includes unlimited voice calls, 300 MB data and 100 local and national SMS for a 28-day period.

“We are working on a plan to allow unlimited voice calls to mobile subscribers at any network across India at Rs 149 a month,” BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava told ET, adding that the plan would also include 300 MB of data.

On September 5, billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio unveiled free voice calls and free data under its ‘Welcome Offer’ for the first three months. The company has now extended the offer till March 31, 2017.

While other private telcos too have started offering unlimited voice calling, these are part of higher-valued plans.

With the new plan BSNL will be second only to Reliance Jio in offering unlimited voice calling in low-value packs.

“Jio has come up with disruptive strategy and we are ready to match whatever tariff is being offered by our competitors,” Shrivastava said.

BSNL is also building up capacity to accommodate voice traffic by making use of its underutilised fibre-based broadband network, which consists of nearly 7-lakh route kilometres of fibre across the country. Its existing broadband network serves merely 12 million customers.

By offering unlimited voice calls at Rs 149 a month over its existing broadband network, the telco, according to Shrivastava, will also aim to reduce interconnection usage charge (IUC) impact. BSNL’s average revenue per user (ARPU) is Rs 88 per month.

Shrivastava said BSNL’s strategy is aimed at not only retaining existing customers but also enhancing subscriber base in the wake of Jio’s tactical pricing, and competitive tariffs by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Close on the heels of Jio’s commercial rollout, BSNL had, in September, launched an entry-level, unlimited broadband plan for Rs 249 and Rs 1,099 3G data plan without any daily data cap, and doubled the data limit in all existing tariff plans.

In 2015-16, BSNL posted a nearly six-fold jump in year-on-year operating profit at Rs 3,855 crore, and also narrowed its net loss to Rs 3,879 crore from Rs 8,234 crore in 2014-15, with a 15% increase in total income (including revenue from operations and interest on refund of spectrum) to Rs 32,918 crore.

Airtel Digital HD Recorder / Kerala Vision Digital TV
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