India-headquartered international operator Airtel, which operators in 20 markets across Africa and Asia has extended its One Network on-net charging offer to its Asian markets. The One Network policy of charging domestic rates to subscribers while on Airtel networks irrespective of country was already established in Africa. Airtel inherited the policy from Zain when it acquired Zain’s African portfolio in 2010.

This latest move sees India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka added to the roster of participating markets. The deal extends only as far as incoming calls to African subscribers roaming on the Asian networks. Users will still have to pay a premium for outgoing calls and data access.

“By offering free incoming calls whilst roaming, the service ups the ante for global telecom providers as the seamless service across continents is a world-first amongst mobile service providers,” said Airtel in a statement.

Andre Beyers, Chief Marketing Officer, Airtel Africa said: “Airtel’s One Network now gives our customers the ability to drastically reduce roaming charges whilst travelling within and across the two continents. Our goal is to provide affordable and relevant mobile communication solutions across borders.”

It is not clear how many subscribers from Airtel’s African portfolio are regular travellers to its markets in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. But Airtel cited “increasing intra-regional trade between Africa and the South Asian nations” as a sector that stands to benefit. “India is the main destination for most of African travellers for trade, its tertiary educational institutions and affordable medical facilities,” Airtel said.

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