BPL launches cut price mobile telephony

In the ongoing battle for subscribers, BPL Mobile has unleashed another price war with the unveiling of a new price plan, called the ValueExecutive Plan, which is being offered to subscribers in Maharashtra and Goa (excluding Mumbai). The ValueExecutive comes with complimentary facilities like caller line identification and call wait/call hold, but add-on services like MobileSTD, Family & Friends and MobileAnswerPhone are offered as options. 

The new price plan offers post paid mobile telephony at a monthly rental of Rs 350, with air time charges of Rs 6.75 for outgoing and Rs 2.75 for incoming calls. This, in comparison with the existing scheme that is in operation, where the rental is Rs 600 per month, with outgoing calls charged at Rs 4.50 and incoming at Rs 1.60 per call.

According to a senior company official, this move does not tantamount to a price war. The official clarifies that prices have not been slashed across the board. Rentals have been lowered, but airtime costs are higher. The company, however, does not rule out competition following suit.

Besides, the Rs 350 rental is also not the lowest ever that BPL Mobile has offered. Two years ago it had a plan with a rental of as low as Rs 156 per month, but the airtime was charged at over Rs 16 per outgoing call, and incoming at over Rs 8 per call.

The company sees this as a facility to those subscribers who have a lower need for monthly cell time usage. Users who have the need for higher cell time will continue to opt for the existing plan. The objective of the new ValueExecutive plan, he agrees, is to make mobile telephony more affordable, and thereby obtain higher penetration.

The plan is targeted to subscribers who would have around 120-140 minutes of usage per month and have a monthly airtime bill of about Rs 900.

"Our customer base has been growing at 8 to 10 per cent. We hope to accelerate this with good products," says marketing manager Mr. Suresh Kumar. The company claims a current subscriber base of 4 lakh members.

While the company is loathe to admit where else the scheme would be introduced, it has restricted the new scheme to Maharashtra and Goa to the exclusion of other regions, because each circle, each region, has different compulsions and requirements.