For people who make frequent calls to a few selected people, friends and family plans make a lot of sense, and while some operators advertise their plans more than others do, most operators in India offer special tariffs for closed user groups.
These plans offer virtually free calling to select numbers. There is a catch to how this works. Generally, it is more expensive to call numbers other than those in the group. Here are five plans from five operators that make sense for people looking to make cheap calls to select numbers.
Tata Docomo: My Family plan 2999
This much advertised family plan is one of the best; you can have 2-5 members in your family plan and can make calls to them for 1 paisa per six seconds for as much as 167 local and STD hours, and a minimum of 50 hours of calls per month.
Calls outside the group are charged at 1 paisa per second during the day; 1 paisa for every two seconds during the night for local calls; and 1 paisa per second for all STD calls.
Activation charge for the plan is Rs 300. You also get 500 MB of 2G and 3G speed data free every month, depending on availability. The plans costs between Rs 999 to Rs 2,999 and only three members are allowed in the group. You will also get 500 SMSes free under the Rs 999 plan; and up to 1,000 SMSes with the Rs 1,999 and Rs 2,999 plans.
Along with this, you also get a single bill for the entire family. It is thus a very good plan for families that talk a lot amongst themselves, especially those whose members are spread across different parts of the country.
Airtel’s closed user group plan
Airtel’s closed user group plan offers 500 minutes of calls per month to any number in the group. The plan also offers 150 local minutes free to any other number. Call rates for other numbers and beyond the free minutes is 50 paise per minute for local and Rs 1.50 for STD.
At least three members are required for this plan, for which an activation charge of Rs 500 is applicable. This will be returned by adjusting Rs 100 per month. However, if your usage is low, you will lose this money as well — for a bill lower than Rs 100, only the bill amount will be refunded, the rest will not be adjusted in the next bill.
This plan is beneficial for those who make local calls most of the time as STD charges are very high in this, given the fact that other plans offer calls at 50 paise per minute.
BSNL – Family plan
BSNL’s services are cheap and its family plan is no different. The plan is not confined to BSNL numbers only and you can include other numbers also. You will be able to make BSNL to BSNL local calls at 10 paise per minute to up to five members and at 30 paise per minute to any other network.
This plan is available for prepaid customers, who can buy a SIM for Rs 20 and recharge it with Rs 34, in which they will also get Rs 25 worth of calls and 200 SMSes free.
There are no other fixed charges: for non-BSNL numbers, local calls will be charged at 1 paisa per minute and STD will be charged at 1.2 paise per minute. Other vouchers can also be used along with this plan, which is a good thing as you can enjoy multiple benefits without any restriction.
Although call charges are not as low as they are with other plans on this list, the benefits of prepaid, no activation charges and no restriction on availing other plans makes it a very attractive plan.
Aircel: Family one bonanza
Family one bonanza is a postpaid plan with a rental of Rs 245. Aircel is offering 100 local Aircel minutes, 100 minutes for other local networks and 100 local landline minutes free, along with 5 paise per minute local calls to group members.
Non Aircel users can also be part of the group but the calls will be charged at 30 paise per minute. At least three members are required for this plan. SMS top up is also available for this prepaid plan, which offers 15,000 free local SMSes for just Rs 25, and 5,000 national SMSes for Rs 50.
Calls beyond the free usage to other mobiles will be charged at 50 paise to a local mobile, 99 paise to a local landline and Rs 1.50 for STD.
This plan is only good for local calls as STD is costly. SMS packs are also an added advantage.
MTNL: friends and family
MTNL has announced a new ‘friends and family’ plan, under which users will be able to call five other frequently called MTNL numbers (mobile or landline) for 10 paise per minute, by paying Rs 50.
Customers may choose an MTNL landline or mobile number under this plan. This facility can be activated through IVR or by requesting customer care at 1503.
The plan is only available for people in Delhi and Mumbai where MTNL offers services and this limits the utility of the plan as most people have parents or siblings living in other cities.