Calling cards are quite a rage for Indians living abroad. They use it for calling India, as calling from a standard telephone would be expensive. Calling cards are operator independent. You can actually buy a card of $5 and talk for a stipulated time of 200 minutes (ex). If you want to use it intermittently then the call would be rounded off to the nearest minute or whatever the choice of the operator is.
Calling cards in India are fairly new. Consumers have to use the existing network to make STD and ISD calls. For example, If I am a Airtel subscriber I can only use Airtel’s plan and Airtel’s network to make STD and ISD calls. That marries me to the network and the service provider.
That is soon going to change. TRAI has made a recommendation to DOT for the introduction of calling cards. The private telecom space is facing some serious competition and introduction of calling cards would make it fierce. Consumer will benefit enormously from this new introduction.
What this means is, If I am a Airtel subscriber, I can buy the calling card of Reliance and use it from my Airtel phone to make a ISD call. I will be using Reliance network for that call. Isn’t that wonderful? This new set-up might actually bring the international calling charges by 70%.
Few Indian operators like Reliance, Airtel and VSNL already have calling card options overseas. Airtel has calling cards in UK, Singapore and Canada. VSNL has a similar set-up in South Asia. It is high time we got some calling cards in India.
Now, don’t assume that the calling cards will be a smooth ride. It has its own share of problems. Connectivity and how well the Indian providers operate with each other is something to be seen. Next thing would be the rounding off issues. Some times the calls would be rounded off wrongly and you have to fight with the customer care rep to get those minutes back. You all know how those customer care calls go. Also, you need to enter a whole bunch of codes to get to the call.
Nevertheless calling card is a welcome addition in the Indian telecom repertoire.
PS : I am not sure if calling cards already exist in India. From whatever information I gathered, DOT does not allow calling cards in India. Operators can sell the cards but the calls cannot originate from India.