As a massive earthquake rocked Nepal, telecom major Airtel on Saturday announced free calls to Nepal on its network over the next 48 hours, while state-run BSNL and MTNL decided to charge local rates for calls made to the Himalayan nation for the next three days.
“We are deeply saddened by the severe impact that one of the worst earthquakes in Nepal has had on the lives of its people,” Airtel said in a statement.
“As a small gesture during this hour of crisis, we have decided to offer all calls on the Airtel network from India to Nepal completely free of cost for the next 48 hours effective midnight, thus enabling customers across the country get in touch with their families and friends in Nepal,” it added.
The move from Airtel came within couple of hours after public sector firm BSNL announced it will charge all calls made from its network to Nepal as per local rates for the next three days.
“All calls that will be made from BSNL network will be charged as per local call rates for next three days,” said BSNL CMD Anupam Shrivastava.
The normal charge for a call to Nepal from BSNL network costs a consumer Rs 10 per minute. He added that BSNL customers would be billed for calls made to Nepal as per the local call rates they had opted for themselves.
“People have opted for different kind of plans. Those who have opted for per second billing plan will be charged as per their plan and those who have opted for per minute calling will be charged on per minute basis. So, now they can make calls to Nepal for about one paisa per second or Re1/minute,” Shrivastava said.
Another public sector firm MTNL, which operates in Delhi and Mumbai, also announced a similar plan. “We have decided to make all calls local for next three days starting this midnight which is April 26 onward,” MTNL Director for Human Resource and Technical Sunil Kumar said.
MTNL call rates to Nepal varies from plan to plan in the range of Rs 7-10.
Messaging app Viber has also switched off its Viber Out billing for the next 48 hours, so that users in Nepal can make free calls to mobile and land line numbers anywhere for the next 48 hours.
(With inputs from PTI)