Airtel has announced that it will no longer charge its customers for roaming within India. As a result, starting April 1st, users will no longer have to pay additional roaming charges for outgoing and incoming calls as well as SMSes and data usage within the country. For people intending to use their phones overseas, international call charges will be cut by up to 90 per cent to as low as Rs 3 per minute and data charges by up to 99 per cent to Rs 3 per MB across popular roaming destinations.

Present at the ongoing Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Mr. Sunil Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel said, “I am declaring a war on roaming. The whole country will now be like a local network for our customers, who will not have to think twice before making or receiving calls or using data while travelling outside their home base. The 17-18 countries Airtel operates-in will allow its customers to have the freedom to switch on their mobile phones, wherever and whenever they want.”

Airtel customers roaming within India will enjoy free incoming calls and SMS, while outgoing calls will be charged according to the customer’s plan and there won’t be any premium charged over and above. Also, there will be no additional data charges on national roaming. Home data packs for customers will apply even while they roam across India.

Airtel’s decision to abolish roaming charges comes close on the heels of Reliance Jio announcing that they will closely study all the plans offered by their rivals and will offer 20% additional data at the same price as the competition. Since Jio doesn’t charge anything for voice calls, there is no concept of roaming charges on their network. However, as we inch closer towards March 31st, when Jio’s Happy New Year offer expires and people will be asked to pay, it will be interesting to see how many retain their Sim cards in the phone’s secondary slot. Since their primary operators will look to lure them with equally tempting offers.