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BSNL’s VoIP service will cost Rs 1099. Can it compete with free alternatives?

State-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) announced on Thursday that it is launching an online calling (VoIP) service called ‘Wings’. The service, which will be rolled out from August 1 on a first-come-first-serve basis, will let users make domestic and international calls using any internet connection including broadband, WiFi, 3G or 4G data network of any operator. "To use the service, a customer needs to install... soft app on any of its smart devices (like laptop/smart mobile handset/tablet) having internet... to make and receive calls from anywhere in India and abroad with any party (landline/mobile)," BSNL said in a statement. Wings is priced at a one-time activation fee of Rs 1,099, which includes free domestic calls for one year. While overseas calls will be priced as per international tariffs of BSNL landline, video calling is only supported between users who have access to Wings services, the telecom PSU said. The move comes after the government recently amended norms to allow full-fledged internet telephony by telecom operators which will enable calls from app to app of licensed service providers as well as on phone numbers.  The mentioned amendment implements one of the recommendations that telecom regulator TRAI issued to the DoT in October last year. Better alternatives, for free! While BSNL emphasised that the service will be beneficial to customers in areas with erratic network supply, the fact remains that it will need some sort of internet connection to work. This leads to the question, why would a customer pay for Wings,…

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