Nimbuzz's offers international calls at one paisa per second

 Sunny Sen        Last Updated: October 28, 2013  | 18:54 IST
Nimbuzz's offers international calls at one paisa per second
PHOTO: Reuters

Nimbuzz, the Gurgaon-based instant messaging company, has launched an international calling service that will allow users to make phone calls over the Internet to landline or mobile numbers worldwide starting at one paisa per second.

The service will make overseas phone calls cheaper by about 90 per cent compared to a telecom operator, says Nimbuzz CEO Vikas Saxena. For instance, phone calls to the US and the UK from India typically cost between Rs 8 and Rs 15 a minute from a Bharti Airtel connection. Nimbuzz's new service, launched in a tie-up with Internet service provider Spectranet, offers calls to these countries at one paisa per second. Rates, however, vary from region to region.

The Nimbuzz application helps users make calls through voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology. It can be downloaded on a mobile device or a desktop and calls can be made using WiFi, third-generation (3G) and 2G networks. To make calls, a user will be able to buy vouchers, recharge online, and through credit and debit cards.

Until now Nimbuzz users in India could do peer-to-peer calling, but now they will be able to make calls to any international landline or mobile number. Other companies such as Viber, Line and Skype also offer free peer-to-peer calling.

Saxena estimates the international calling industry in India is worth about $1.5 billion. Udit Mehrotra, CEO of Spectranet hello IP, says India gets 6.5 billion minutes of incoming international calls but outgoing calls make up only 10 to 15 per cent of that amount. "This disparity is because of high pricing," he says.

So, is this the beginning of a price war between Nimbuzz and telecom operators?

"International calling is very seasonal in India and is at a very nascent stage," says an executive with a telecom company, who doesn't want to be named. "The impact, if any, will be seen after the festive season, but this service will generate more data revenue than we lose on it." Bharti Airtel declined to comment while a call to an Idea Cellular spokesperson went unanswered.

Nimbuzz is bullish, though. It expects to double its user base to 50 million next year. Mehrotra expects that a sizable chunk of this will make use of this service. Spectranet has partnered with 150 telecom operators internationally, and will pay Nimbuzz a fixed amount for using its platform.

Spectranet will have to pay termination charges to the international telecom operator. Termination charges vary from five paisa to 50 paisa per second, depending on the telecom operator and region of operations.

Saxena also says Nimbuzz would like to use VoIP to offer local calling if rules permit. Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, says Saxena, recently got permission to do trial runs of domestic VoIP calls, but it is not open for all. The company is already planning a pan-India network for broadband wireless services.

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