Calcutta, Jan. 1: Possibly ringing the death knell for national long-distance telephony, popularly known as STD, Reliance Infocomm today announced a price of Re 1/minute for a call anywhere in India to a phone in any network.
Under the plan ' “One Nation, One Tariff” ' a Reliance IndiaMobile subscriber now need not worry about distance, time, operator or technology for calls within the country.
The subscriber can call another subscriber in any competitive network ' Airtel, Hutch or BSNL ' using any technology ' GSM or CDMA for mobiles or traditional landline phone ' and still pay Re 1.
Compared to this, the best rates available from other telecom operators is not less than Rs 2 a minute.
The move by the Anil Ambani-owned company took competitors by surprise. Officials of Airtel and Hutch, the country’s largest and third largest mobile (GSM technology) operators, were unavailable for comment.
announcing the plan, S.P. Shukla, president, wireless, Reliance Infocomm, described the price as a New Year gift to subscribers.
“The plan is aimed at people who make frequent calls outside the circle,” he said from Mumbai.
The offer is available under pre-paid as well as post-paid plans.
Under the pre-paid offer, a subscriber will have to buy a Rs 1,100 coupon which comes with 1,100 free text messages. With a talk value of Rs 750, it is valid for 30 days.
The post-paid plan involves paying Rs 499 a month as rental. Call and SMS charges will be additional.
The announcement comes at a time when a price war is raging again.
Tata Indicom took the market by surprise in mid-October when it offered free incoming calls for two years.
Others like Airtel and Hutch hit back by offering lifetime free incoming calls for pre-paid users against a one-time commitment of Rs 999.
Government-owned BSNL, bruised by the onslaught of private operators, reacted by reducing landline rentals from Rs 250 to Rs 180 a month.
Union communications and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran had earlier announced the concept of IndiaOne ' single rate across India ' which has so far not been launched because the tariff could not be fixed.
Going forward, Reliance may offer Re 1 a minute under other tariff plans also. “This is the beginning. We will see the usage pattern and evolve new plans,” Shukla added.
Telecom analysts believe that other operators would have to follow suit. “Ultimately, telecom will be the function of service and brand as none can afford to be outpriced. at the end of the day, users will be the biggest beneficiary,” they added.