Soldiers in the Army and paramilitary forces can now make phone calls for Re 1 per minute instead of Rs 5, the telecom ministry said on Wednesday. The ministry said this was a “Diwali gift” for the soldiers and officials who often need to speak to their family and their headquarters, while serving in remote areas.

In addition to cheaper calls, the soldiers will no longer have to pay any monthly charge to avail the service. Earlier, they needed to pay Rs 500 a month to use the Digital Satellite Phone Terminal service, which is often the only way for soldiers to make calls.

The changes will be applicable from the day of Diwali, which falls on Thursday, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said.