State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is offering free fixed-line calls at night in a bid to resurrect landlines that have almost disappeared from Indian homes because of the growing popularity of mobile phones.
BSNL, which offers telecom services across the country except Delhi and Mumbai, has launched a scheme that allows fixed-line users to make unlimited free calls to all landlines and mobile phones across the country between 9pm and 7am. The plan, that kicks off on May 1, will initially be applicable for six months and 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 HT. “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.”
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.
BSNL is hoping its new scheme will help lift fixed-line subscriptions that have fallen over the past five years to 16.93 million in 2015 (until March 31) from 27.83 million in 2010.
The new scheme covers all major landline general plans of rural and urban areas, landline special plans as well as major landline and broadband combination plans. Details are available on its
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), which offers fixed-line services in Delhi and Mumbai, has no immediate plans to match the offer, an official in the company’s marketing department said. The public sector telecom company is without a CMD and hence such decision are not possible, he said.