Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) - In an apparent response to the heightened competition in the telecoms sector following the introduction of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) system, two telecoms operators -Etisalat and MTN have reduced charges for their Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) by 50 per cent.
By this development, the BIS on the Etisalat network, which hitherto attracted N3,000 for its Blackberry absolute plan, now costs N1,500, while the network's second BIS plan - Blackberry complete (BBC) package - is now available to the customers for N1,000 per month.
A subscriber on the Etisalat's absolute BB plan, the investigation further revealed, can access 10 different personal email addresses and unlimited data bundle, while customers who subscribe to its complete plan have access to one email address and an unlimited data bundle.
An Etisalat customer agent, simply identified as Ugo, who spoke to THISDAY, said: 'Etisalat had two subscriptions plans for its BIS; the absolute and the complete, priced at N3000, and N1500 respectively, before the price slash'.
He explained that 'with the price slash, a subscriber can now have access to 10 personal emails and unlimited data bundle on the absolute plan for N1,500 and one email and unlimited data bundle on the complete plan for N1000'.
THISDAY gathered that MTN has taken a cue from Etisalat's new marketing strategy by crashing its BIS subscriptions rates too.
It was also learnt that the MTN's rate reduction was further extended to its Blackberry quarterly (BBQ) and Blackberry complete (BBC) packages.
According to one of the network's customer agents who spoke to THISDAY on the condition of anonymity, 'MTN now charges N4,000, N1,500, and N1,000 as new rates for its BBQ, BIS, and BBC respectively, against the N8,000, N3,000, and N1,500 it had previously charged its customers for the same services.
'In addition, when a subscriber automatically activates his subscription, he/she gets one week free, and if he/she automatically activates his/her subscription, he/she gets another three weeks free which equals a one-month-free subscription,' she explained.
The operators, it was also reliably gathered reduced the rates on Blackberry subscription as a competitive strategy because the smartphone has the secured Blackberry Messenger (BBM) service.
Besides, the device has the ability to serve up emails round-the-clock; thus making it a household name in the country.
THISDAY checks further showed that two other operators - Globacom and Airtel -were still hanging on to their old BIS subscription rates.
However, the Airtel offers its subscribers one gigabyte data bundle and an access to one personal email address for the N1,400 plan and an access to10 personal email addresses and one gigabyte data bundle for the N2,850 plan.
It also rewards subscribers who are able to pay for two months subscription at a go, one month free subscription, which means that a subscriber gets three months for the price of two with Airtel.
THISDAY also learnt that Globacom is the only GSM provider that is yet to offer any kind of incentive on its BIS subscriptions.
A Globacom customer agent at Ikeja, who gave his name as Peter, told THISDAY that the BIS dual plans for Globacom subscribers are priced at N1,400 for a one-gigabyte data bundle and a personal email address; and an unlimited data bundle and 10 personal email addresses at N2,800.
On whether there was any incentive if a subscriber on another network wanted to port to Globacom, the customer agent said the service provider was yet to roll out such BIS subscription incentives.
But THISDAY investigation revealed that Airtel and Glo are yet to respond as they still stick to their old rates. When contacted, a spokesperson for Airtel, who chose not to be mentioned, declined to respond to why the company has not slashed its BIS rates.
By Amaka Eze