The telecom ministry on Wednesday announced a “Diwali gift” for the armed and para-military forces, in the form of reduced call rates, to ensure that they can speak to their loved ones for “longer durations.”
“It’s a Diwali gift from the ministry to soldiers. They can now talk to their families for longer durations without worrying about the charges,” telecom minister Manoj Sinha said.
Earlier, soldiers paid a monthly sum of Rs 500 on Digital Satellite Phone Terminal (DSPT) and Rs 5 per minute as call charges on most connections.
The government’s move drastically reduces call rates, from Rs 5 to Re 1 per minute.
“Starting tomorrow, the monthly charge on DSPT will be completely discarded. For phone calls, instead of Rs 5 per minute, soldiers will now have to pay Re 1 per minute,” the minister added.
Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the move will cost the government Rs 3-4 crore per annum.
Currently, the country has 2,500 operational satellite phone connections. Satellite phone service, which was being provided by Tata Communications, will now be provided by the state-run BSNL.
“We have capacity of 5,000 connections. We are informing the defence and the home ministries that more connections can be given. The total capacity can be further increased, if required, in six months,” Sinha said.
(With inputs from agencies)