In a clear bid to grab a larger slice of the mass market, Reliance Infocomm has announced the launch of its pre-paid service — RIM Prepaid. The company is attempting to lower the price barrier for its new customers.
Announcing the details in Mumbai, Reliance Infocomm head - Mumbai & Maharashtra Atul Jhamb pointed out that the pre-paid segment was growing at a rapid pace. All local calls, intra-circle calls and inter-circle calls within 50 kms to another mobile phone will cost Rs 2.49 per minute while inter-circle calls beyond 50 kms to another mobile phone will be Rs 2.99 per minute. All calls of less than 200 kms made to a fixed phone will cost Rs 2.99 per minute while inter-circle calls of above 200 kms to a fixed phone would be for Rs 3.99 per minute. Apart from this, there will be no deposit for the roaming service and no roaming airtime; only call forwarding charges will be applicable. For local SMS, the rates will be Re 1, while national SMS will attract Rs 2. Inter-national SMS will cost Rs 3.
Reliance is launching the pre-paid service with seven handset models and the cost of the handset is bundled with the tariff. The entry level handset is the Motorola C131 for which the customer will pay Rs 3500 and get Rs 3240 of talktime; this translates to an effective handset price of Rs 260. The talktime worth Rs 3240 will be in the form of ten coupons of a denomination of Rs 324 each. Each of these coupons will have an effective talktime of Rs 200.
Reliance Infocomm head of marketing Kaushik Roy (L) and head of Maharashtra and Mumbai Atul Jhamb (R) at the launch of the the company’s pre-paid service
The LG handset will cost the user Rs 6500 on which the talktime will be Rs 6480. The other handsets on offer are Nokia, Samsung and GTran; all of them will come with the bundled offer.
According to Mr Jhamb, the subscriber will be required to exhaust the talktime over a period of six months. “After six months, he will still be able to receive incoming calls and SMS for another six months without having to pay anything,” he said. The refill coupons will come with denominations of Rs 324, Rs 540 and Rs 1080; the rentals for this will be Rs 100, Rs 125 and Rs 150 respectively.
The RIM prepaid also offers features like automatic roaming, STD facility, call forward and voice message service apart from access to the R World suite of applications. However, a customer has to purchase additional recharge coupons for ISD services. Mr Jhamb said that the service would be available commercially from February 11.
Bharti, meanwhile, said it is currently studying the Reliance pre-paid offer.
As compared to private global system for mobile communications (GSM)-based cellular operators, Reliance’s local call rates are similar. However, in the cell-fixedline long distance segment, private cellular operators charge higher rates by 50 paise to Re 1 based on distance. When compared to BSNL rates, Reliance rates are relatively higher by a margin of 30 paise and 50 paise in the local call category for calls terminating in mobile and fixed segment respectively. In the STD segment, Reliance rates are higher by margins of 40-50 paise in various segments.
It is launching its prepaid segment on its eight-digit numbering plan and not on the ten-digit scheme as specified by Department of Telecom.