The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tepid response forces Reliance to rework Pioneer offer

New Delhi, April 10: Reliance Infocomm is rehauling its Dhirubhai Ambani Pioneer plan after failing to achieve the ambitious target of 25 lakh subscribers. It had soft launched its limited mobility service last December.

The company has also decided to reshuffle its marketing set-up with a few more heads expected to roll in the next few weeks.

At a meeting held last week with senior executives of Reliance Infocomm, group chairman Mukesh Ambani agreed in principle to a change in modalities of the Dhirubhai Ambani Pioneer offer and the reshuffle in the marketing team.

The Dhirubhai Ambani Pioneer Offer included one free digital mobile phone, unlimited free incoming calls, a 15-second pulse rate, abundant minutes for a limited spend that include all local calls and long distance calls to any Reliance phone in the country. Within the plan, the cost of an STD call was 40 paise a minute and that for a short call up to 15 seconds was only 10 paise.

Reliance, which has managed to rustle up 8.5 lakh subscribers or about 34 per cent of its target, is planning to give consumers the freedom to choose the handset while reducing the three-year lock-in period to just one year.

The company, which has pushed back its commercial launch deadline to May 1, is also likely to rework the tariff structure for both incoming calls and the STD rates at 40 paise per minute in view of the interconnect user charge regime. Reliance intends to introduce two new plans that will replace the existing Dhirubhai Ambani Pioneer plan.

“The brand name of the scheme has to be retained but the service package may have to be changed. Many proposals have been discussed since the scheme has not been able to ignite entrepreneurship as had been planned. We had set a target of 25 lakh subscribers and we have got only 8 lakh subscribers under the plan,” a senior executive in Reliance Infocomm Ltd said.

“We have received inputs from our dealers that the bundling of handset has been a major deterrent to growth in subscriber base. But this has varied from place to place. In Gujarat, the subscribers were happy with the package, while in Delhi and Mumbai it has been slow to pick up. The delay in launch of service may be one of the reasons but it cannot be the major reason for the slow subscriber growth,” sources in the company said.

“A number of new schemes have also been sent to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for approval. We expect these will help bring in more customers,” sources said. Company officials were cagey while talking about the reshuffle.

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