Bharti Airtel Ltd on Monday said that it has removed additional charges on voice, SMS and data usage on national roaming, in an effort to retain users in the wake of the new entrant Reliance Jio’s free voice and data services.
"Airtel customers roaming within India will enjoy free incoming calls/SMS and there will be no premium on outgoing calls allowing them to speak freely wherever they are within the country,” Bharti Airtel said in a statement. "Also, there will be no additional data charges on national roaming. Home data packs for customers will apply even while they roam across India,” the statement added.
India's largest mobile phone service provider also said international call rates will be cut by up to 90 per cent to as low as Rs. 3 per minute and data charges by up to 99 per cent to Rs. 3 per MB across popular roaming destinations.
"This marks the death of national roaming and the whole country will now be like a local network for our customers, who will not have to think twice before making or receiving calls or using data while traveling outside their home base. Airtel has again set the benchmark in delivering best in class value backed by a great network experience," said Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO, Bharti Airtel.
The company also said beginning 1 April, customers on international roaming Without a pack will be fully protected from bill shocks through an automatic adjustment that is equal to the daily pack for that particular country.
As examples, Airtel explained: "When a customer traveling to the USA without a pack hits the threshold of Rs 649 (the price of the one day pack for USA), he/she will automatically move to the one day pack with free incoming calls/SMS, 100 India and local country outgoing minutes, 300 MB data and a host of other benefits. Similarly, a customer traveling to Singapore will move to the one day pack the moment his/her usage hits the Rs 499 mark.”
Bharti Airtel offers international roaming packs with varying validity options, such as 1 day, 10 days, 30 days, etc. with free incoming calls/SMS, local and India calling minutes and texts, and data. The new facility would be specially useful for the users who fail to subscribe to a respective roaming pack, and make their travel with active international roaming charges, Bharti Airtel said.
Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal said: "At Airtel, we are changing the international roaming paradigm, which will allow our customers to take their number to every corner of the world. As an industry, operators across the world must collaborate to remove the cost barrier to roaming and offer customers the convenience of staying connected without the fear of exorbitant bill charges."
Reliance Jio's entry has already triggered a wave of consolidation in the country's telecom space. Recently, Bharti Airtel said it will acquire Norway-based Telenor's Indian operations across all seven circles to boost its subscriber base and augment its spectrum holding.
Besides, this Vodafone India and third largest operator Idea Cellular, too, are in exploratory talks to merge their businesses to take on the threat emerging from Reliance Jio's entry.