All pre-paid Bharti Airtel customers across the country will now be charged on the basis of a pay per second tariff plan. The move comes in the midst of TRAI conducting investigations into whether telecom operators are benefiting from call drops.
Airtel asserted that the shift in billing will guarantee consumers pay only for the time they have used up in talking. Pre-paid clients represented over 94.4% of the brand’s total user base as of June 2015. While a majority of them are already on a per-second plan, the change ensures that all its consumers are charged on a more affordable basis.
Gopal Vittal, Airtel’s CEO, recently explained that since approximately 95% of the network provider’s clients were on a second-based tariff plan, there was no possibility of the company earning revenue through call drops. A consultation paper by TRAI on the matter revealed that people were often charged for an entire minute even if the talk was cut off within a second.
The sudden move by Airtel guarantees such occurrences will not result in profits. The provider is offering its users the option of choosing an additional tariff discount pack on top of the per-second base plan. Ajai Puri, the brand’s director of market operations, said it was currently investing heavily in improving network quality and setting up new sites to add to its coverage all over India.
PTI reports that Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg is now looking into plans where customers get free minutes or are billed on a minute-based basis. The issue of call drops has increased two-fold in the past year during peak hours. Telecom companies were recently given an ultimatum by TRAI to sort out the problem within two weeks before they would have to face a performance review.