Airtel Drops National Roaming Charges On Voice And Data Services To Take On Reliance Jio 

The scheme will be applicable from April 1, 2017.

Pedestrians walk past a Bharti Airtel Ltd. store in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)
Pedestrians walk past a Bharti Airtel Ltd. store in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Bharti Airtel Ltd. will soon abolish domestic roaming charges on its network for both voice and data services.

The country’s largest telecommunications company said on Monday that incoming calls and text messages will be free, no premium will be charged on outgoing calls, and additional data charges will be dropped on national roaming, starting April 1, 2017, according to an emailed statement.

If a data pack is activated in the home circle, it will be activated while roaming too, the statement added.

For international roaming, postpaid customers without a roaming data pack will be automatically adjusted to the equivalent daily data pack for the particular country. This is to ensure customers do not suffer from any "bill shocks" the next month, Airtel said.

Call charges on international roaming will be reduced to Rs 3 per minute while data will be charged at Rs 3 per megabyte across 'popular roaming destinations', the statement said. These charges will apply if the international roaming pack has been exhausted.

The announcement comes a week after the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. said there will be no roaming charges on its network.

Telecom operators must collaborate to make international roaming more convenient, Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel and GSM Association, an industry body representing over 300 companies internationally, said at the Mobile World Congress In Barcelona.

As an industry, operators across the world must collaborate to remove the cost barrier to roaming and offer customers the convenience of staying connected without the fear of exorbitant bill charges.
Sunil Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel and GSMA

Incumbent operator Vodafone had already slashed rates since Reliance Jio's entry. In October 2016, Vodafone India had made incoming calls while on roaming free.

Among the major telecom companies in the country, Idea Cellular Ltd. is the only one which imposes roaming charges for incoming calls. An Idea customer pays Rs 0.45 per minute for an incoming voice calls. For outgoing calls, the charges are 0.80 per minute.

Bharti Airtel Ltd.’s stock was trading 2.8 percent lower at Rs 355.7 on the Bombay Stock Exchange as of 3:23 pm.