State-run telecom majors BSNL and MTNL are set to introduce unlimited free calls for their landline customers from Friday night, a move aimed at boosting landlines in the face of the growing popularity of mobile phones.
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which offers telecom services across the country except in Delhi and Mumbai, is offering free unlimited fixed-line calls to all landlines and mobile phones across the country between
The plan will initially be applicable for six months and it will be reviewed depending on the response.
"We hope to resurrect our fixed-line business and we hope that it will attract customers back to fixed-line," Anupam Shrivastava, chairman and managing director of BSNL, told Hindustan Times.
BSNL is hoping its new scheme will help lift landline subscriptions that have fallen over the past five years from 27.83 million in 2010 to 16.93 million in 2015 (until March 31).
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), which offers fixed-line services in Delhi and Mumbai, too is introducing unlimited free local calling at night for its landline and broadband customers to any network.
"MTNL has decided to introduce unlimited free local calling for its landline and broadband customers (Combo) between 2200 HRS to 0700 HRS to any network. The free unlimited calling facility is also available for Delhi MTNL landline customers to any network to Mumbai and vice versa during the same hours," it said in a statement.
STD call charges have been made local by making call charges rate at 180 sec/pulse, it said.
India's landline subscriber base stood at 26.7 million at the end of February 2015, of which MTNL accounted for more than 3.5 million subscribers.
Shrivastava acknowledged that the move would hit revenues. "There will be some impact on revenues, but with only 10% calls made at night, it may go up to 15% with the offer. However, if we are able to add more customers, then, it is worth the attempt," he said.
Landlines were once the lifeline of all Indians, but millions have ditched them for handier and more versatile mobile phones in the past decade because of dirt-cheap call rates and the proliferation of smartphones.