Photo Credit: Twitter/ BSNL
State-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on Wednesday announced the soft launch of Wings, the company's first Internet telephony service in India, a prepaid initiative in its landline offerings, and a rent free landline connection for existing subscribers. This comes after TRAI had refreshed VoIP guidelines in October last year, and something that the Telecom Commission approved recently in May this year. This service will use a mobile numbering scheme, provided using IP based access network of IMS NGN Core switches, to allow subscribers to make and receive calls over the Internet via their landline or mobile phone. One-time activation fee for the VoIP service has been set at Rs. 1,099.
Back in October last year, TRAI had released guidelines for Internet telephony/ VoIP standards in the country. This development came after private players complained about BSNL's mobile calling app that allowed users to make international calls using Internet. This app was alleged to bypass call connection charges.
Under the new guidelines that BSNL has put in place with its Wings initiative, the state-owned telco will have to link a mobile numbering scheme with the mobile app in order for calls to go through. The company is offering free audio and video calling for one year at the above-mentioned activation fee of Rs. 1,099. This service is targeted at subscribers in areas with poor mobile coverage. With the Wings Internet telephony services, users can make and receive calls using broadband, Wi-Fi, 4G, or 3G Internet. Video calling is only supported for Wings-to-Wings calls only.
Customers can use their existing address book while making calling through the app. The soft app or SIP client is configurable on laptops and mobile phones.
Booking for new connections under this scheme is slated to start soon and customers will be waitlisted with immediate effect in all telecom circles of BSNL. Additionally, the first batch will start rolling out from August 1, 2018 with availability on a first come first serve basis.
BSNL this week also introduced a 'pay per use' prepaid landline offering for its subscribers. With no installation, no rental, and no registration charges, prepaid BSNL landline can be installed on the customer's own instrument or on BSNL's CLIP instrument that entails a one-time Rs. 625 charge.
The initial pack voucher has been priced at Rs. 200 with unlimited voice calls to any network, including local and STD. It has a validity of 30 days. Special Tariff Vouchers (STVs) will also be available priced between Rs. 11 and Rs. 199, with validity ranging between 1 day and 30 days. All the STVs offer unlimited local and STD calls to any network in India. BSNL is also offering top up vouchers that can be utilised within validity period.
To apply for the prepaid landline service, users can subscribe through SMS, BSNL CSCs, retailer outlets, or BSNL's direct selling agents. Recharge for the packs can be done through BSNL's online portal or through retail stores.
Separately, the telco announced subscribers of a fixed line connection can avail of a rent free fixed line connection in addition, with 25 percent discount on call charges after 200 metered call units (MCUs), and 50 percent discount after 500 MCUs.