How far can the telecom industry withstand another bruising tariff war? This is the question Tata Teleservices has asked by launching a new tariff plan offering STD calls at 30 paise a minute and local calls at 50 paise a minute for pre-paid subscribers on its CDMA-based Tata Indicom brand.
The scheme, called 'Ulta Plan,' is probably the only tariff plan wherein STD calls actually cost less than local calls.
Pre-paid subscribers can use the plan by recharging their number with vouchers available for Rs58 and Rs104, by which they can make STD calls at 30 paise a minute for a period of three months for the first 600 minutes a month. After this usage, STD calls will be charged at 50 paise a minute. National and local SMS will be offered at 50 paise.
The move comes a little over a year after sister company Tata Docomo changed the mobile telephony game by offering billing on a per-second basis rather than per-minute, forcing other operators to follow suit.
Sanjeev Khera, chief operating officer and Karnataka regional head (south), TTSL said the new plan was aimed at increasing STD callings and pushing up its market share. The mobile company currently earns just 20 per cent of its voice revenues from STD calls. The remaining 80 per cent comes from local calls.
''We expect a substantial leap in STD callings through this plan. It will also help us expand in new markets,'' said Khera. Some observers however believe TTSL is chasing expansion of subscriber base at the cost of profitability in the short term through the new plan.