Continuing the cutthroat price war in India's mobile telephony market, Tata DoCoMo, the GSM arm of India's sixth-biggest mobile services provider Tata Teleservices, on Sunday extended its one-paisa-per-second billing scheme to roaming calls, regardless of the network or type of phone.
Earlier on Friday, industry leader Bharti Airtel introduced a new billing plan that cut mobile roaming rates by nearly 60 per cent, depressing the company's shares.
From today, Tata DoCoMo, 26-per cent owned by Japan's NTT DoCoMo, will charge 1 paisa per second for both incoming and outgoing calls made while roaming across India.
Tata's new tariff plan is likely to trigger a rate war in the roaming segment as it did for local and STD calls in June this year. Tata Teleservices was the first to launch per-second billing, deviating from the industry norm of per-minute billing. The offer was a roaring success as the firm topped in new signings for three months in a row.
However, the price war, aimed at grabbing new users ahead of fresh entrants waiting in the wings, has raised concerns about telecom firms' profitability. Four new firms, including ventures funded by Telenor and Etisalat, are set to start services this year adding to the existing 11 operators.
Tata DoCoMo president Deepak Gulati said, ''We are delighted to announce yet another industry-defying offer to our subscribers - a transparent and pack-free roaming tariff plan of one paisa per second for all incoming and outgoing calls, both local and long distance, to all networks and types of phones, mobile or landline.''
Though a one paisa-per second tariff translates to 60 paise per minute and hence appears to be more expensive than the usual 50 paise-per minute tariff, in actual use it would be more economical, as the user won't have to pay for the whole minute even if he or she uses a fraction of it, as is currently the case.