No Free Incoming Calls – Airtel, Vodafone & Idea


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I was lured by telecom companies in India saying that they provide lifetime validity with free incoming calls back in 2009. Incoming calls were free if we do a minimum recharge of Rs. 10 for every six months. This was one of the reasons why most of the people switched to prepaid rather than postpaid. In 2018, everything has been changed. Major telecom companies like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea in India have fixed their minimum charger per month which a user needs to recharge in order to receive incoming calls. This move has told goodbye to free incoming calls.

No Free Incoming Calls in Airtel, Vodafone and Idea

Emergence of Jio

Jio, a telecom product from Reliance India Pvt. Ltd. launched VoLTE providing free data and outgoing calls in the year 2016. The arrival of Jio has put several other Indian telecom industries to almost bankrupt. To avoid bankruptcy, other telecom providers were trying to provide cheap data plans to retain their customers. However, Aircel, one of the Indian telecom providers was already bankrupt and had to shut down by announcing the customers to port to other networks.

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VoLTE is Cheap

VoLTE is cheaper and Jio launched VoLTE only plans. This means Jio supports only on mobile phones that support VoLTE. Older mobile phone does not support Jio. This drawback prevented few customers living in rural areas to switch to Jio. For other companies to provide VoLTE takes a lot of time and money. However, other telecom providers do not want the customers to leave the network and hence they were forced to provide mobile data plans at cheaper rates and had to make outgoing calls free as Jio was providing free incoming calls.

Low-Cost & High-Speed Data, Free Incoming Calls and Free Outgoing Calls

Although all major networks such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea were providing cheaper data, free incoming calls and also free outgoing calls, most of the customers were making calls on Jio rather than the primary network that they were using. This is because Jio gave 3 months of free incoming and outgoing calls when they first announced. As the outgoing calls and data were free, there was always a rush in almost all Jio stores. The free period was even extended for another 3 months. This move made other Indian telecom providers worry.

A user spends averagely spends Rs. 30 every month. Airtel, Vodafone and Idea somehow were struggling to get at least average price from users. Jio did not have the ability for mobile number portability when they first launched. Thus people were using Jio on first SIM (as VoLTE works on first SIM in most of the phone) and their primary phone number in secondary SIM slot. As the free period got exhausted in Jio, people still loved to recharge Jio as their plans were cheaper than other Indian telecom providers. Initially, it was Rs. 300 for 3 months in Jio where you are eligible to enjoy 1 GB data every day after which the speed is reduced to 128 Kbps. The other telecom providers were providing 1 GB data for the entire month for Rs. 250 – 300 and the telecom charges for additional usage. Such a pricing plan from Jio made people in India to move to Jio as it was worth the penny. Airtel, Vodafone and Idea lost their loyal customers and even lost the trust.

No more free incoming calls?

Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have decided to charge Rs. 35 for every month in order to retain customers who are generating revenue for the company. If you do not recharge Rs. 35 every month, you will not be able to make outgoing calls after 30 days. However, there are no per-minute charges like it was before. Your incoming calls will be banned after 45 days of non-payment of Rs. 35. This move will actually make customers switch to Jio, however, there are several customers who use an older phone which does not support Jio. Such users have to abide by this rule.

Where Can I Switch To?

Jio requires a smartphone that supports VoLTE or a Jio phone. However, BSNL did not announce any minimum charges. Hence, users are free to switch to BSNL unless there is no announcement.

What is your thought on minimum charges charged by telecom companies such as Airtel, Vodafone and Idea? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Courtesy: Prof.Chen Hualin
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