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Spoilt for Choice - Operators woo customers with attractive schemes

July 15, 2010
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To stay ahead in India's hyper competitive telecom market, carriers are constantly innovating, stepping up their marketing efforts and enhancing their value-added services (VAS). It is not surprising, therefore, that the market is chock-a-bloc with a slew of attractive telecom schemes. In the past three months, just about every operator has visited the market with offers ranging from bundled services, innovative VAS, vouchers with full talktime, cheap handsets, low tariffs and better roaming rates.

Vodafone Essar, for example, has introduced a low-cost black-and-white handset, priced at Rs 799, and bundled it with the operator's basic "Magic Box" offer. Uninor, meanwhile, has come out with an "Unlimited Talk Plan" for its Patna subscribers. Under this, users can make unlimited calls within the operator's network for Rs 38 per month.

Clearly, all operators, existing and new, are sparing no effort to woo the customer and retain their market share. tele.net takes a look at some of the exciting offers crowding the market today...

Bharti Airtel
The operator has tied up with Dow Jones to launch The Wall Street Journal India mobile application for Airtel users. The application provides free downloads of international and Indian financial and business news from The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones newswires. Customers opting for this premium financial market news and data, as well as the portfolio tracker, will be charged a monthly subscription fee of Rs 99.

Bharti Airtel also offers unlimited SMS pack recharges that allow post-paid and prepaid users to send unlimited national and local text messages. Post-paid subscribers can send up to 500 SMSs per day at a monthly rental of Rs 99. However, this offer is not applicable on blackout days, when normal SMS rates of Re 0.50 for local SMSs, Rs 1.50 for national SMSs and Rs 5 for international SMSs apply. To activate this service, the user needs to send "UNLIMITED" as a text message to 121.

Bharti Airtel is also offering customers a range of local and regional services under its App Central service. Priced at Rs 5, the service allows customers to avail of over 1,250 applications across 25 categories, which are automatically added to the customer's bill or deducted from the talktime.

Vodafone Essar
Vodafone Essar has launched a tariff advisory service, for prepaid and post-paid customers. Users can dial 121 toll free to get advice on the most suitable tariff plans for them based on their budget and usage pattern. In addition to new offers and tariff advisory services, customers can also receive account-related information like bill details, credit limit and add-on connections as well as information on roaming rates, VAS and other promotional packs.

The operator has also introduced a lowcost handheld targeted at rural customers.The black-and-white monochrome Vodafone 150 handset has five-way navigation keys, an alarm clock, polyphonic ringtones, a torchlight and a mini USB connector. It is priced at Rs 799.

Tata Teleservices
Tata Teleservices Limited's (TTSL) GSM brand, TATA DOCOMO, has introduced two recharge vouchers of different price denominations for existing and potential prepaid customers. The vouchers offer both pay-per-minute and pay-per-second tariff options with a single recharge. To avail of this offer, new subscribers need to recharge with a voucher worth Rs 24, which will entitle them to talktime of Rs 10, while existing DOCOMO subscribers will have to recharge with a voucher of Rs 21, which will also entitle them to talktime of Rs 10. Local and STD calls to any network are charged at Re 0.45 for 60 seconds (Re 0.01 per second for the first 45 seconds and the next 15 seconds free for each consecutive minute). SMS charges for new customers using the Rs 24 voucher are Re 0.60 for the first local message and Re 1.20 for the first national SMS, after which 200 SMSs (local or national) are free for 90 days from the recharge date. Existing customers recharging with the Rs 21 voucher can avail of the same calling benefits but the existing SMS rates continue. The offer is applicable for a period of one year from the date of recharge.

TTSL has also launched daily plans, which give users the option of changing their plan every day by dialling *141#.These include the Talkathon plan, which entails 30 local talktime minutes for Rs 5 on the TATA DOCOMO network, 30 local talktime minutes for Rs 12 for calls across other networks, 30 local or national minutes for Rs 14, and 10 local talktime minutes for Rs 5. For night users, the plan offers 60 free local minutes on the TATA DOCOMO network; the GPRS plan offers users 10 MB of free browsing for Rs 5; the world calling plan gives 10 minutes of talktime to the US or Canada for Rs 20, five minutes of talktime to the US and Canada for Rs 10, and three minutes of talktime to the Gulf for Rs 20. The entertainment plan offers 15 minutes of free music for Rs 5, and cricket alerts for Rs 5 per day.

Reliance Communications
Reliance Mobile has launched a Weekend Masti offer for its GSM and CDMA subscribers. Under this, subscribers can make unlimited free local calls to any Reliance Mobile number (GSM or CDMA) on Saturdays and Sundays by recharging with a voucher worth Rs 33.

The operator has also introduced the "Simply Suvidha" VAS, which allows its prepaid subscribers to continue using specific VAS despite having insufficient or negative core balance in their account. An automatic credit limit ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 15 is extended to the subscriber. The service is, however, not applicable if the user's outgoing calling facility is barred.

Idea Cellular
Idea Cellular has recently partnered with Nokia to introduce data plans on select Nokia handsets. The handsets bundled with this offer are the Nokia E63, E71, E72, N79, N97, N86, 5233, x6, 5230, 5130, 5530, 5800, X6-16GB, 5235 and N97 Mini. The offer is open to both postpaid and prepaid customers. The plan gives prepaid customers free GPRS data usage of 50 MB per month for three months. Additional browsing is charged according to the default per KB GPRS browsing rate plan. Similarly, under the post-paid plan, customers can avail of free data usage worth 50 MB per bill cycle for three bill cycles.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited
The state-run operator has introduced three new monthly BlackBerry service plans for prepaid users in its north, east and south zones. The plans, which include the BlackBerry internet, BlackBerry messaging, and BlackBerry social networking bundled service plans, offer unlimited data usage and give customers the flexibility to choose from a range of services including BlackBerry email, instant messaging, social networking and internet browsing. The BlackBerry messaging bundle service plan comes at a monthly rental of Rs 299 for post-paid users and Rs 271 for prepaid users, and offers access to BlackBerry email (up to 10 supported accounts) and instant messaging services. The BlackBerry social networking bundle is available to postpaid users for a monthly sum of Rs 299 and to prepaid users for Rs 270 per month, and offers access to instant messaging services and social networking sites. The BlackBerry internet bundle entails a monthly rental of Rs 999 for post-paid users and Rs 898 for prepaid users, and gives access to BlackBerry email (up to 10 supported accounts), instant messaging services, social networking sites and the internet.

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited's (MTNL) new lifetime validity scheme for its 3G services allows subscribers to make local and STD calls at Re 0.005 per second, and video calls at Re 0.01 per second. The scheme is priced at Rs 101 (Rs 10 for the 3G SIM kit and a recharge voucher worth Rs 91, with free talktime of Rs 41).

The PSU has tied up with the Ukbased ROK Entertainment Group, a mobile technology and applications company, to launch ROK's mobile video service iPlayer. The service enables MTNL users to stream or download video content onto their phones. For a monthly rental of Rs 30, users can download up to 90 clips with content ranging from news to astrology predictions, sports, comics and comedy.

Virgin Mobile
Virgin Mobile India has introduced two new SMS packs for GSM customers in Mumbai and Maharashtra. The packs are priced at Rs 33 and Rs 69, and entail 2,000 and 500 free local and national SMSs respectively for 30 days. The company has also launched a special recharge voucher pack of Rs 99, wherein customers are charged at Re 0.20 per minute for STD and local calls (within the network), Re 0.40 per minute for local calls and Re 0.50 per minute for STD calls (outside the network).The pack is available for 90 days.

Sistema Shyam TeleServices
Sistema Shyam TeleServices has announced the launch of its wireless broadband internet access service, MBlaze, in Jharkhand.The service is being offered for Rs 2 per MB and provides users with internet access via a USB modem. Users can choose between the MBlaze premium and MBlaze standard USB modems to access this service. Both devices have lifetime validity and offer users speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps, with an upload speed of up to 1.8 Mbps.The MBlaze premium mode is priced at Rs 2,299 while the MBlaze standard device is priced at Rs 1,999.

The operator has introduced a concept of dynamic pricing under which its subscribers can avail of discounts ranging from 5 to 60 per cent, depending on the congestion levels at the tower where the call is initiated. If the load on a tower is low, users will be eligible for the maximum discount of 60 per cent on a call rate of Re 0.50 per minute. The discounts available to the user are visible on the handset.

Aircel has launched the Peek, an emailcentric handset, which offers a new email alert LED on the top of the screen. It is capable of handling push emails and supports up to three email accounts. It is priced at Rs 2,999. This device comes with several prepaid and post-paid plans.Prepaid users can avail of unlimited email service for Rs 897 for 90 days. Thereafter, the subscriber can recharge with a voucher worth Rs 89 with seven days' validity or with a Rs 299 voucher with 30 days' validity. Post-paid customers can pay Rs 897 for three months of unlimited internet usage, after which they are charged Rs 299 per month.

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