“The infamous network blackout days would override any special pack to earn extra revenue for telcos, but Jio’s advent has forced operators to withdraw it”
State-owned telecom operator, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has announced the withdrawal of network blackout days from 2019, beginning with the upcoming New Year’s eve. The operator has announced that it will no longer override special tariffs and charge standard rates for messages sent on New Year’s eve, ending a long-infamous practice that allowed operators to cash in on the customer’s intent of festive messages.
The network blackout days are no longer as big an issue as it was years ago, when most communications would occur via SMS messages. Today, most users are connected to Wi-Fi hotspots or via mobile data, and use internet-based messaging services to go about the festive messages. Nonetheless, the move will come as welcome news for those who still use feature phones, and rely on SMS messages to communicate with one another. BSNL has confirmed that for such users, special tariff packs and bundled recharges providing free SMS messages will remain valid on the typical network blackout days.
The move is yet another instance of tariff slashes, ever since the advent of Reliance Jio and its heavily competitive pricing of services literally coerced the entire telecom industry to slash rates in order to remain competitive. The annual blackout days were abolished in 2016, as affordable tariff by Jio led to many switching to its services. The influx has also affected telecom giants Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, which have since slashed prepaid tariffs multiple times and improved postpaid plans by providing more data and unlimited calling. Last year, operators even introduced free outgoing calls while on roaming networks in India, thereby establishing a truly nationalised pricing and taking away another revenue path for operators.
It is an interesting time in the Indian telecom industry, with more users steadily making the migration towards data-based services. While the abolition of network blackout days won’t really be of tumultuous significance any longer, it still is a welcome move from BSNL, which itself has been striving hard to gain back some of its user base.