Phone cards, toll-free numbers reach India

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BOMBAY--Mahanagar Telephone Nigam, the state-run telecoms marketer in the key Indian cities of Bombay and Delhi, has introduced India's first prepaid phone card.

The Virtual Card will be based on models used overseas, and sold in denominations of $11.75, $4.70 and $2.35. Only fixed-line phone callers in Bombay and Delhi will initially be able to use the card, which may revolutionize telecoms communications in India's two biggest commercial hubs.

Separately, Mahanagar Nigam has also intro- duced toll-free numbers in the country. Again, only Bombay and Delhi will initially be offered this service. Subscribers will pay long- distance charges for calls from other cities and local rates for calls made from Bombay and Delhi.

The telecoms marketer in August had asked for applications for the toll-free service. Banks, transportation companies, express courier firms and consumer products marketers were among the 250 that applied. Health care products marketer Johnson & Johnson's Indian subsidiary is the first company to be allotted a number.

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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