Trai pulls up Airtel, Vodafone-Idea on minimum recharge plans

Vodafone Idea officially starts operation as largest Indian telco

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) pulled up Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for warning subscribers of sure plans that their SIM playing cards could be deactivated if they don’t recharge their pre-paid accounts although these subscribers had the minimum required steadiness.

“Trai has received a large number of complaints regarding SMSs being received by them to mandatorily recharge their prepaid accounts in order to continue to avail services even though their prepaid account have sufficient balance in it,” the regulator wrote in comparable however separate letters to the 2 telcos dated November 27.

The regulator met with the telcos on November 26 and despatched out the letters a day later. The telcos have additionally been requested to offer data to the subscribers by means of SMSs instantly, topic to a most of three days.

The regulator mentioned that whereas it was reviewing the inputs from the service suppliers, it has directed the telcos to duly inform the subscribers in a transparent and clear method the date on which the present validity of their current plan would expire.

Trai additionally insisted that the telcos inform these subscribers the style wherein they might go for out there plans, together with the minimum recharge plan, utilizing the subscribers’ out there pay as you go account steadiness.

The telcos had been additional directed to not deactivate the SIMs of those subscribers until such time they’ve steadiness of their accounts equal to the minimum recharge quantity required as per a tariff plan.

The letter comes within the backdrop of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea going on a drive to weed out prospects who preserve solely minimum steadiness of their accounts in order to have the ability to obtain calls however don’t make outgoing calls, dragging the metric of common income per consumer (ARPU) down. These plans are known as minimum recharge plans and usually start at Rs 35.

“Catering to the evolving market dynamics, Vodafone Idea has radically simplified its prepaid plans to enhance customer convenience. These new integrated prepaid plans, available in a range of price points, offer bundled talk-time and tariff, making them easier to understand and use,” a spokesperson for India’s new market chief mentioned in response to ET’s queries.

“These plans have been rolled out across all circles and we are actively communicating with customers, informing them of the changes and helping them avail these new plans,” the corporate added.

Bharti Airtel didn’t reply to emailed queries in search of remark.

Vodafone India and Idea cellular – whose merger on the finish of August created by Vodafone Idea – and Bharti Airtel have confronted extreme stress on income and profitability since Reliance Jio’s disruptive entry in September 2016.

While Vodafone Idea reported a 4.7% sequential fall in its ARPU to a document low of Rs 88 and Bharti Airtel noticed its fall 4.3% to Rs 100.8 – an analogous all-time low – within the July-September quarter. Reliance Jio infocomm, although, reported a better ARPU – of Rs 131.7 –although additionally down 2% sequentially.

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