BSNL increased call rates over two times on New Year days
Gopinath Prabhu 03 January 2014

BSNL declared 31st December and 1st January as blackout days for voice calls and reportedly collected more than double charges from its prepaid subscribers in Karnataka

State run telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has found a new and innovative formula to earn more revenues from its customers, especially pre-paid mobile subscribers. BSNL has informed its pre-paid subscribers from Karnataka circle that they would not get free or discounted rates for voice calling on 31st December and 1st January.


Most of the mobile operators declare certain days like New Year's eve and 1st January, and festivals like Diwali and Dussehra as blackout day for sending messages. This means, all messages sent on blackout days are charged at normal rates or at a higher rates, irrespective of the billing plan or special tariff vouchers (STVs) purchased by the subscriber.


Gopinath P, one of the readers of Moneylife said, "If you have purchased an Rs44 STV by virtue of which your outgoing call are to be charged at 0.6 paisa per second (or 36 paisa per minute) for 30 days. However as per the new diktat from BSNL, you will now be charged 1.5 paisa per sec (or 90 paisa per minute) on 31st December and 1st January. A 2.5 times hike for just two days and BSNL also gets to pocket the money paid for the STV."


The idea of declaring blackout days came into existence following unprecedented surge in traffic volumes, especially for SMS. In order to avoid network jams, mobile operators decided to charge more for sending SMS on these special days.


However, with more and more people using social networking apps, like Whatsapp, WeChat and Skype to send and receive messages and greetings, mobile operators are unable to earn money on these blackout days. Something like this may have prompted BSNL to come out with the idea of increasing call charges on 31st December and 1st January.


"On the lighter side however there is a silver lining, government companies can think out of the box indeed...Hats off to BSNL for this 'topi pahnanewala' scheme," Mr Gopinath concluded.

Vaibhav Dhoka
9 years ago
BSNL also stopped manyservices in nature of discount to landline users for example free call of 50 been reduced to 30 in Yakin Nahi Aata plan.stopped 1% rebate for ECS and net payment and many more.
9 years ago

The Blackout Days are decided by TRAI not by BSNL, TRAI can allow only 5 days in a year to operator.So dont misguide to BSNL customers.
9 years ago
Why is it that when BSNL does anything like this people start shouting but same tricks are being practiced by private telcos and still there is a needle drop silence?? Mr Gopinath It is not that private telcos are not applying this formula. You are just trying to confuse public and airing the anti-BSNL thoughts. Not a single private teco provides the volume of details which have been clearly written on BSNL's website on a single page and that too in same font size very clearly. If you overlook something then that doesn't mean it will become a news and it doesn't mean you can start assicning jargon's like "topi pehnanewala scheme". So first assess properly do your homework properly and then come in public.I would just say you all are of a sick mentality of being judgmental.
Kapil Mishra
Replied to ravi comment 9 years ago
What kind of language are you using? I'm shocked that you are justifying wrong practices of BSNL just because some private players are already doing it.
Gopinath Prabhu
Replied to ravi comment 9 years ago
I am a BSNL user. If I were a private telco user and this happened to me, I would have aired it against the private telco too. So where is the question of having an agenda of being anti BSNL ?

Basically I do not understand why there is a "Black out day" in the first place. Just bcoz people talk on that day is it fair that service provider to say that no discounted STVs will be available on that day ? In such a case why have a STV at all. Lets say I pay Rs 50 for 1000 Sms per month and then, they say there is restriction that you cant send SMS at discounted rate on X day or Y day, then why have such STVs at all. Why should there be restrictions? Does the telco incur any extra cost to provide us service on these black out days ? Its just because people talk/sms more on these days, can you loot the public by putting in a clause saying its not applicable on certain days.

Chetan is right when he said Black out days are well set in advance. This system was not done by Telcos. It was done by TRAI

Glance the TRAI site, while others have clearly stated that whether the black out is for SMS or Voice or Data or all 3, BSNL is silent.

Earlier few telco had as much as 9 Black out days in 2009. Every one does some trick or the other to loot the public. Everyone has to fight their own battles to get their money back.

But overall, Buyer beware is the mantra. As far a efficiency of BSNL, everyone might have their opinion. But remember it was a monopolistic company a decade ago with zero care for customer. Today its staring at losses. The service at BSNL today has improved tremedously. Even in a small village like mine, a complaint is addressed and corrected with the same day if the complaint is before 1pm. The reason is not the love for customer. It is because of the competition. Could I have expected the same service in 1998. Never.

If some is not pro customer. He might gain in the short run but never in the long run. The decline of BSNL from a Cash cow to loss making company just proves it.
Chethan S
9 years ago
BSNL's blackout days were applicable PAN India and the charges were not over two times the call tariffs. BSNL charges calls and SMSes as per the 'base plan' of the customer on blackout days. Note that base plan could be circle specific plans like Savinudi in Karnataka or nationwide plans like 3G per minute etc. So I would say these allegations are baseless and suggest Mr. Gopinath to read the SMS and web notifications by BSNL carefully. For benefit of readers here is the one BSNL Karnataka - [PDF]
Gopinath Prabhu
Replied to Chethan S comment 9 years ago
Hi.. It is only after reading it I have written this article. It is for the first time any telecom company has stated that voice STVs will not be applicable on these 2 days which is arbitrary in nature. No telecom operator can do that at such short notice. Earlier, telecom companies had a long list of special days. Now it is TRAI who specifies which are the special days on which SMS charges are higher. If BSNL is left scot free it will put out such notice 2 days before every festival and loot public. I am questioning the very notice which they have put out. The notice itself is arbitrary and an anti customer move. The telecom cartel will pick it up from BSNL and every telecom company will do the same in the future.

For further on customer rights with regard to tariff you are requested to read "Transparency in the Tariff offers and in Disclosure to consumers" at TRAI site.
Chethan S
Replied to Gopinath Prabhu comment 9 years ago
I wish to bring to your notice that the list of blackout days is notified well in advance - usually at the beginning of the year by BSNL and other operators. BSNL corporate website has this info - This facility of reduced rate will not be available on 5 black-out days, i.e. New Year Eve 31st Dec., New Year Day 1st Jan., Valentine Day, Diwali & Christmas Day. In HP christmas day is replaced by holi and in kerala Diwali is replaced by ONAM (Except One sec pulse STV)

The notice they put up in circle websites and the SMS they send just serves as a reminder. TRAI has also specified upper limit for blackout days - 5 per year. So every festival or festival eve can't be treated as a blackout day.
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