Following the launch of Reliance Communication’s Simply Reliance plan with call and SMS services priced at Rs. 0.50, and the per-second-billing pre-paid plans being adopted by many operators, public sector telecom operator BSNL has thrown its hat in the ring with two tariff plans which specifically address both threats. A “Special Tariff Voucher” has been introduced for Per Second Billing. Post the activation of the special tariff voucher (no time period is mentioned, so we’re assuming that this is a one time charge for switching to per-second-billing), local calls will be priced at Re. 0.01/second, while STD calls will be priced at Re. 0.02 per second. There is no such offer for post-paid consumers, yet.
We had conducted a poll at MediaNama, regarding tariffs, and the overwhelming majority felt that tariffs will be reduced further. Thing’s don’t look very promising now, from a margin perspective. Remember that most Telecom Operators are still in subscriber-land-grab mode, and the introduction of new telecom operators keen on not just getting new subscribers, but also on acquiring subscribers from competitors, has forced telcos to focus both on retention and acquisition.
While as a package (when you take into consideration SMS and GPRS charges), the per second billing plan is still not on par with Tata DoCoMo’s pre-paid package, it might help address looming issue of churn for BSNL. BSNL is the third largest Telco in India, and Idea Cellular has fast been gaining ground on BSNL this year. Idea Cellular also recently reduced pricing in Mumbai, and per-second-billing in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.
Apart from this, BSNL has also launched a Special Tariff Voucher for Rs. 99, as per which local and STD calls and SMS’ will be priced at Rs. 0.50. The problem is that the validity of this voucher is 30 days, so it appears to be a recurring expense for the customer. Therefore, this appears to be a short term measure, and is unlikely to result in addressing churn from BSNL to RCOM networks.