Reliance Jio to be Railways' service provider from 1 January
22 November 2018
Railways will switch to cheaper Reliance Jio for telecom services from end-December when its current contract with Bharti Airtel expires. Railway officials say the switch to Jio will slash its phone bills by around 35 per cent.
Beginning 1 January 2019, Reliance Jio Infocomm will serve the country's largest telecom accounts - the Railways – as the national transported looks for ways to cut costs.
Railways has around 1.95 lakh mobile phone connections used by its employees in closed user group (CUG) across the country for cost it around Rs100 crore a year, according to officials.
A Railway Board order issued on 20 November said it "had assigned the responsibility to RailTel for finalisation of fresh CUG scheme for Indian Railways as the validity of the existing scheme is expiring on December 31, 2018. Fresh CUG scheme had since been finalised by RailTel and Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited has been awarded the contract to implement the scheme."
"The fresh CUG will come into effect from January 1, 2019," said the order, which also detailed the tariff rates to be provided by the company.
Closed User group (CUG) is a supplementary service provided by the mobile operators to subscribers who can make and receive calls from any member associated within the group. This service is applicable for SMS also.
Under the scheme, Reliance Jio, the latest entrant in the telecom market, will provide 4G/3G connections and calls will be free of charge.
The company will provide four packages to Railways - one for its senior most officials (two per cent subscribers) - a 60GB plan with a monthly rental of Rs125, a 45GB plan at a monthly rental of Rs99 for its joint secretary level officers (26 per cent subscribers), a 30GB plan at a rental of Rs67 for Group C staff (72 per cent subscribers) and a Rs49 rental plan for bulk SMS.
For regular subscribers, a 25GB plan of Jio is available for Rs199 and subscribers have to pay Rs20 per GB thereafter to top up their plans.
Railway employees have to pay Rs10 for 2GB of extra data they use and more thereafter, according to the plan worked out by Jio.
Under the present Airtel scheme, Railways is charged for calls outside CUG, while the Jio plan will not do so. Also, the 3G/4G data pack in effect from next year is much cheaper than the present packs available to Railways.
"While Airtel is serving around 1.95 lakh railway subscribers, Jio will serve 3.78 lakh personnel of the railways, and because of the increase in the numbers, we are getting a better deal from the service provider. As a result of this, we are likely to reduce our phone bill by around 35 per cent," a senior official said.
Reliance Jio Infocomm won the contract after it emerged as the lowest bidder for the account beating Airtel and Vodafone.
Railways had demanded free calls from the bidders and all the bidders had offered the same, but Jio offered the least cost data from among all.