MTNL per-second billing was launched in Mumbai and Delhi today. With this, the government-owned MTNL has become the latest telecom operator to offer per-second billing for its customers in India.
As of now, Tata DoCoMo, Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, BSNL, Loop Mobile and MTS offer per-second billing in India. The trend was started with Tata DoCoMo, and soon, all other telecom operators started offering per-second billing.
In fact, MTNL’s per-second billing is cheaper than its competitors. MTNL said in a press release that the company will bill its customers in the same MTNL network at rate of half a paisa per second. For customers dialing other networks, the charge will be 1 paisa per second.
SMS (text messaging) on the MTNL mobile network will cost 25 paise in the same circle, national SMS will cost Re 1, and international SMS will cost just Rs 2.50. This is one of the cheapest SMS charges available in India now. MTNL users in New Delhi can call MTNL users in Mumbai at a flat rate of one paisa per second, on mobile, or over landline.
Customers of MTNL Delhi wanting a new prepaid mobile phone plan can avail the new per-second tariff plan by buying a SIM kit of MRP Rs 100 and a Trump coupon of Rs 49. The customer gets a for Lifetime plan along with Free talk value of Rs 12. In Mumbai, MTNL customers can buy any SIM kit & use Trump pay-per-second coupon of Rs 45/- for availing per second billing.
MTNL also unveiled a pay-per-second plan for its Postpaid Dolphin customers. Dolphin users can opt for the postpaid pay-per-second plan or a monthly fixed charge of Rs 149. There is a one-time activation charge of Rs 500 for new users. Existing Dolphin users can get their plan converted to pay-per-second plan by giving a request to the MTNL office or by dialing the MTNL call centre number 1503. Current 2G customers can convert to 2G pay-per-second plan, and 3G customers can convert to 3G pay-per-second plan. 2G customers wishing to convert to 3G pay-per-second plan can do so by first converting to 3G plan by paying nominal conversion charges.
MTNL chairman RS Sinha said that the per-second billing system will initially hurt telecom operators, but will help them in the long run. He said that telecom is a volume game, and the more customers sign up the better.
MTNL director finance, Anita Soni said, “The market is witnessing huge competition in terms of tariffs. But it is difficult to say if the tariffs have hit the bottom. It will not be possible to predict the market if voice becomes free some time.”
Till recently, telecom operators in India used to have a pulse system for charging their customers. This meant that even if you spoke on the phone for just 5 seconds, you would be billed for 30 seconds if you were signed up in a 30-second-per pulse billing plan. So inevitably, customers had to pay more than the actual talk time they availed of. With the launch of per-second billing by Tata DoCoMo, other telecom operators had little option but to launch per-second billing on their networks too.
Though customers have welcomed the launch of per second billing and tariffs, it has not gone down well with the stock market. Most of the listed telecom companies in the market have taken the heat of per second billing. It is feared that per second billing will reduce revenues for the telecom companies and bring down their profit margins.
Mr RSP Sinha, CMD of MTNL, while launching the plan, said “MTNL remains committed to providing its customers at both Delhi & Mumbai the most advanced technology services at the most competitive rates. Our pay-per-second plan is the most affordable & shall benefit 4.4 million mobile customers of MTNL, including about 1.65 lac 3G customers”.