Bharti Airtel abolishes roaming charges

Bharti Airtel has abolished roaming charges for its subscribers within India, after new rival Reliance Jio adopted a similar policy.

The move will come into effect on April 1, the date on which Jio will start its services on a commercial basis.

With this, incoming calls will be free and outgoing calls and SMS will be charged at home rates, the company said.

“This marks the death of national roaming and the whole country will now be like a local network for our customers, who will not have to think twice before making or receiving calls or using data while traveling outside their home base,” said Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel.

Interestingly, nearly all telecom companies had opposed a suggestion by Indian telecom authorities a couple of years ago to do away with roaming charges, but competition seems to be forcing their hands now.

Airtel also said it will automatically move international roamers onto its cheaper plans if they forget to activate such plans, to save them from higher expenses.

“This means that the moment a customer’s billing reaches the price of a one day pack for the country, he/she will be automatically moved to that pack. This will allow our customers to use their devices abroad without any fear,” it said.

This is among a series of moves adopted by Airtel, Vodafone and Idea to counter the threat from Reliance Jio, which is reported to account for around half of India’s total data carrying capacity and is poised to start commercial operations on April 1.

Besides, Airtel has also started offering 0.5 GB per day to its users at a monthly charge of Rs 149, besides offering free on-net calls on the same scheme.