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No need for fresh directive on prepaid validity, benefits as telcos have complied, feels TRAI

TRAI has decided not to issue any fresh directive to telcom operators on prepaid validity extension for now, as they have offered benefits to low-income users amid the lockdown and indicated it will be open to considering further measures in due course.

Regulatory sources said the operators had responded to queries by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on the issue, and their replies backed by data were considered by the authority in a detailed review.

Given that companies have complied with TRAI’s call and announced measures for low-income users to stay connected amid the lockdown, the regulator felt there is no need to come out with specific new instructions for now.

The authority will be keeping a close watch to see how the situation evolves, TRAI sources told PTI.

The matter will be reviewed again accordingly, they added.

E-mails sent to operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio remained unanswered.

India had decided to extend lockdown restrictions till May 3 to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The death toll due to COVID-19 has risen to 824 in India, while cases have climbed to 26,496.

During the first phase of lockdown, telecom operators had announced benefits for low-income prepaid users to help them tide over the ongoing crisis.

Recently, Vodafone Idea announced extension of incoming service for 90 million low-income prepaid customers using feature phones, till May 3. Bharti Airtel also said it is extending validity of 30 million low-income prepaid customers till May 3.

Reliance Jio has announced that every Jio user will continue to receive incoming calls. This will not only benefit low-income users but also those who are unable to recharge during these challenging times.

Meanwhile, telcos have also activated several channels including ATMs, post offices, grocery stores and chemist shops, in addition to digital channels, to enable mobile users to recharge.

―Outlook India

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