BSNL gives strong counter to Re­liance Jio, of­fers 10GB data a day for Rs 249

Business Sphere - - ARUN JAITLEY, MINISTER OF FINANCE - By Our Cor­re­spon­dent

Re­liance Jio an­nounced the ex­ten­sion of its free ser­vices from April 1. To counter this new of­fer by Re­liance Jio, BSNL has launched an im­pres­sive scheme which pro­vides 10 GB of data per day and is by far the max­i­mum of­fered by any ma­jor tele­com com­pany in In­dia. This new of­fer can be availed at a price of just Rs 249. How­ever, the plan does not en­tail free call­ing at all times. Un­like Jio, BSNL free voice call­ing will only be avail­able af­ter 9pm at night till 7am in the morn­ing. This time boun­d­a­tion won't be ap­pli­ca­ble on Sun­days. Apart from that, the speed of­fered by BSNL won't be able to com­pete with Re­liance Jio and other ma­jor 4G net­work providers. The data speed for this plan will be limited to 2Mbps. There is no con­fir­ma­tion re­gard­ing the drop in speeds af­ter the daily limit is reached. With 10GB per day, this can eas­ily be one of the cheap­est data plans any ma­jor tele­com com­pany has to of­fer at the mo­ment. Re­liance Jio has also of­fered a new Sum­mer Sur­prise. In ac­cor­dance to the new of­fer, users will get 3 months of data ser­vice at the cost of one. The free ser­vices on Jio will re­main avail­able till the end of this month. Other ma­jor op­er­a­tors are also gear­ing up for this ex­tended tar­if­fwar. Cel­lu­lar op­er­a­tors' body COAI has said Re­liance Jio's lat­est pric­ing will con­tinue to bleed the in­dus­try

and there is a risk of cas­cad­ing im­pact on banks and oth­ers that have large ex­po­sure to the tele­com sec­tor.

BSNL to ramp up mo­bile cov­er­age in As­sam's in­ter­na­tional bor­der ar­eas: Manoj Sinha

State-run tele­com op­er­a­tor Bharat Sachar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will ramp up mo­bile cov­er­age in in­ter­na­tional bor­der ar­eas of As­sam, com­mu­ni­ca­tion min­is­ter Manoj Sinha has said. BSNL will in­stall satel­lite­based base trans­ceiver sta­tion (BTS) in the in­sur­gency in­fested hill dis­tricts of Karbi An­g­long and Dima Hasao, Sinha said here on Sun­day af­ter re­view­ing the work­ing of BSNL North­east In­dia. "There is also a pro­posal go­ing on for bor­der ar­eas of As­sam, which will be re­viewed and de­ci­sion will be taken shortly," he said. BSNL has sub­mit­ted a pro­posal for set­ting up 2,000 mo­bile tow­ers, out of which at least 920 tow­ers will come up in in­sur­gency in­fested and dis­turbed ar­eas, and around 108 mo­bile tow­ers are pro­posed to be in­stalled along Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Bangladesh bor­ders. The pro­ject is ex­pected to cost around.`2,000 crore. "Across the coun­try, we have in­stalled around 2 lakh BTS tow­ers in the last one year. We will en­sure that the bor­der ar­eas of North­east In­dia have mo­bile cov­er­age," Sinha said. "BSNL has wit­nessed a turn­around. We now have more money to spend. We will take up pro­ject sub­mit­ted by As­sam cir­cle, for now we have money to spend," he said. BSNL is in­stalling Next gen­er­a­tion net­work (NGN) tele­phone ex­change in As­sam. The state re­ported 28% in­crease in the data down­load in last one month.

Now BSNL of­fers 2GB data per day, un­lim­ited call­ing for Rs 339

To counter threat from Re­liance Jio, state-run tele­com firm BSNL launched a new plan that of­fers 2 GB of 3G data per day and un­lim­ited call­ing within its net­work for Rs 339. “The ben­e­fits cus­tomer will get un­der the Combo STV (spe­cial tar­iff voucher) of Rs 339 are un­lim­ited calls in BSNL net­work and un­lim­ited data with fair use pol­icy of 2 GB per day with va­lid­ity of 28 days,” BSNL said in a state­ment. The of­fer is limited for 90 days. Re­liance Jio is of­fer­ing 1GB of 4G data and un­lim­ited call­ing to all net­work for free till March 31. From April 1 on­ward, Re­liance Jio cus­tomers opt­ing for Jio Prime ser­vice will get un­lim­ited data and calls till March 31, 2018, for one time reg­is­tra­tion fee of Rs 99 and Rs 303 per month. BSNL said that the data of 2 GB per day is one of the best in the in­dus­try. “We are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing af­ford­able and ef­fi­cient ser­vices to all seg­ment of our loyal mo­bile cus­tomers. We of­fer best prices to our cus­tomers con­sid­er­ing present trend of In­dian tele­com in­dus­try,” BSNL Di­rec­tor for Con­sumer Mo­bil­ity RK Mit­tal said. BSNL cus­tomers un­der the new scheme will also get 25 min­utes of free call to other net­work ev­ery­day and af­ter that they will be charged 25 paisa for minute long phone call. The devel­op­ment comes on the heels of an­nounce­ment of Re­liance Jio’s Prime mem­ber­ship pro­gramme. Jio’s

data tar­iffs re­main the cheap­est in the coun­try in both pre­paid and post­paid cat­e­gories. Ri­val Air­tel, on the other hand, is giv­ing away 30GB free data for three months to its post­paid cus­tomers, which can be availed be­fore March 31.

BSNL, MTNL merger plan back on dis­cus­sion ta­ble

Af­ter a hia­tus of few years, the pro­posal to merge BSNL and MTNL is back on the dis­cus­sion ta­ble with top of­fi­cials at the tele­com depart­ment once again 'brainstorming' on var­i­ous op­tions be­fore the two loss-mak­ing, state-owned en­ti­ties. Ac­cord­ing to a highly-placed source in the Depart­ment of Tele­com, a top-level meet­ing re­cently dis­cussed pos­si­bil­ity of merg­ing both the en­ti­ties that are fac­ing fi­nan­cial stress due to in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion in the sec­tor. Another of­fi­cial said that in the first phase, BSNL is keen on pick­ing up mo­bile op­er­a­tions of MTNL in Gurgaon, Noida and Farid­abad, where it is al­ready of­fer­ing land­line and broad­band ser­vices. The other op­tion could be the ac­qui­si­tion of MTNL's mo­bile op­er­a­tions in Delhi and Mum­bai - the two met­ros it op­er­ates in. BSNL, on the other hand, op­er­ates in rest of In­dia. The meet­ing, head by the then Tele­com Sec­re­tary JS Deepak, was held 2-3 weeks ago and idea is gain­ing ground once again. The idea of merg­ing the two firms was first mooted years ago by the then tele­com min­is­ter Pramod Ma­ja­han and has been de­lib­er­ated upon a few times since then. Of­fi­cials said how­ever that the talks on the merger have been re­vived at the in­stance of se­nior of­fi­cials in the govern­ment. On the hur­dles to the move, sources said, staffing and salary re­lated is­sues pose a big chal­lenge. Be­sides, they said, MTNL is debt­laden and while the move will be a pos­i­tive for it, BSNL will have to bear the brunt. MTNL has been reel­ing un­der "se­ri­ous" debt prob­lem and is bor­row­ing money to meet its day-to­day re­quire­ments. In writ­ten re­ply to the Ra­jya Sabha in Novem­ber last year, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Manoj Sinha had said: "In case of MTNL, it has been go­ing slow in up gra­da­tion of equip­ment dur­ing the last 4-5 years due to se­vere fi­nan­cial prob­lems. MTNL is un­der se­ri­ous debt bur­den and is bor­row­ing money to meet its day to day re­quire­ments." MTNL's stand­alone net loss has widened to Rs 819.96 crore, sur­pass­ing its to­tal rev­enue, dur­ing the three-month pe­riod ended De­cem­ber 31, hit pri­mar­ily by fi­nance cost. The net loss sur­passed its to­tal in­come of Rs 690.59 crore. The to­tal debt of MTNL reached Rs 19,418.23 crore at the end of De­cem­ber 31, 2016, from Rs 11,542.3 crore in 2012-13, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial data. In 2015-16, MTNL re­ported to­tal an­nual rev­enue of Rs 3,197.41 crore and net loss of Rs 2,005.72 crore. The losses of BSNL have nar­rowed how­ever to Rs 4,890 crore for the nine month pe­riod of the cur­rent fis­cal, from Rs 6,121 crore in the year-ago pe­riod. It posted 5.8 per cent in­crease in in­come from ser­vices at Rs 19,379.6 crore dur­ing the pe­riod un­der re­view. As per tele­com reg­u­la­tor Trai, as of De­cem­ber 31, BSNL and MTNL had a mar­ket share of about 9 per cent of the to­tal wire­less sub­scriber base of 1.12 bil­lion.

BSNL Di­rec­tor for Con­sumer Mo­bil­ity R. K. Mit­tal

Manoj Sinha, Min­is­ter of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (In­de­pen­dent Charge)

Tele­com Sec­re­tary J. S. Deepak

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