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Reliance conjures up phone-for-all magic

Mumbai, Dec. 27: Reliance took its first step towards realising the dreams of founder Dhirubhai Ambani—that of making phone calls cheaper than the post-card—with the launch of its wireless in local loop-based service today.

The services, launched under the aegis of group company Reliance Infocomm, are expected to shake up the telecom world with schemes that allow consumers to make an upfront payment of Rs 3,000 and Rs 600 per month for three years and enjoy several value-added services, including a free digital mobile phone, unlimited free incoming calls and a 15-second pulse rate.

Coming under the banner of Reliance IndiaMobile Service, the WiLL service, based on the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) platform, would provide messaging, internet, video conferencing, music download and movie download services at competitive prices.

Called the ‘Dhirubhai Ambani Pioneer Offer’, Reliance Infocomm would commence demonstrations of the service on January 15 and bookings by February end across 673 cities. While bookings would last till March, later, the WiLL facility would connect all 6,40,000 villages and 2,000 odd towns and cities to each other and to the world in a “seamless manner”.

“Reliance Infocomm will challenge the conventional cost structure in the telecommunications industry. It will offer services at incredible prices,” RIL chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said.

Under the three-year pioneer offer, subscribers would get one free digital mobile phone worth Rs 10,500, unlimited free incoming calls, a 15-second pulse rate and free outgoing calls for 400 minutes. Moreover, STD calls will be charged at 40 paise per minute and short calls up to 15 seconds will be 10 paise. The scheme also allows for exchange of current handsets and discount coupons for various products. The amount of Rs 600 per month to be paid by subscribers includes a rental of Rs 240, user charges of Rs 160, club privilege of Rs 100 and plan financing of Rs 100, while value-added services such as call hold, call conferencing, text messaging would be free. Ambani said while the company had proposed charges of Rs 400 per month for 800 minutes talk time and a nominal charge for incoming calls to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the latter asked it to opt for 400 minutes of outgoing calls, with incoming being free.

The two other plans on offer include Regular scheme, an upfront payment plan, which covers only talk time and the Standard Plan, which is a monthly payment plan.

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