Idea Cellular to offer free incoming calls on domestic roaming


MUMBAI: Idea Cellular subscribers are set to get lower bills after the company, India’s No. 3 telecom operator, said it won’t be charging for incoming calls on domestic roaming from April 1, a bid to retain customers amid a price war launched by Reliance Jio Infocomm.

“Effective April 1, 2017, Idea’s 200 million customers will enjoy free incoming calls while roaming on company’s 2G, 3G and 4G network across 400,000 towns and villages in the country. Idea customers will be able to make outgoing calls, SMS freely at affordable rates while roaming anywhere in India,” the company said in a statement on Sunday.

The move comes a few weeks after the market leader, Bharti Airtel, “killed” roaming charges for incoming calls as well as SMS and data usage within the country. It had also announced special packages offering subscribers benefits on international roaming.

Besides, Airtel had said at the end of February that it will not charge any premium on outgoing calls while roaming across India. Vodafone, India’s second largest telco, had last year abolished roaming charges on incoming calls and come up with special packs for overseas use.

Both Idea and Airtel have chosen April 1to kick-start their offers. This coincides with the date from when Jio will start charging its subscribers, having offered them services for free till March 31. Jio, however, will not be charging for voice services, including on roaming. Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Jio Infocomm announced earlier this month that it will start charging subscribers from April 1. But the sharp discounts it will offer for a year to its existing 100 million users and those who sign up by the end of March have kicked off the next phase of the price war, which has already hurt Airtel, Idea and Vodafone. From April 1 till March 31, 2018, Jio’s existing users and those who come on board between March 1 and March 31will continue to get 1GB of data a day plus all of its apps for Rs 303 a month and a onetime charge of Rs 99.

The facility of free incoming calls on domestic roaming will be extended to both prepaid and postpaid customers, Idea said.

For subscribers travelling abroad, the company said it will offer bundled usage of up to 400 outgoing minutes, 100 SMS per day, large data volume and unlimited incoming calls.

These international roaming packs will come bundled with free 1GB/2GB/3GB data and overage charges as low as Rs 3 per MB to avoid “bill shock” to travelling customers, said the Kumar Mangalam Birla-owned company in a statement. Customers can choose a 10-day pack for short leisure travel or 30-day packs for continuous business trips or long stay.

Airtel had said that its international call rates will be cut by up to 90% to as low as Rs 3 per minute and data charges by up to 99% to Rs 3 per MB across popular roaming destinations.

For Idea subscribers, the packs start at Rs 1,199 for 10 days’ validity and go up to Rs 5,999 for 30 days’ validity, offering up to 85% savings on international roaming charges