Telcos ask TRAI for time till April 20 to submit data on prepaid recharge pattern
TRAI had asked telcos for data on number of prepaid subscribers whose balance got exhausted and was not recharged on their own (between midnight of March 24 and midnight of April 13, 2020).
Telecom operators, including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have approached sector regulator TRAI seeking time till April 20 to submit data on recharge pattern of prepaid users amid the lockdown.
TRAI, earlier this week, had asked operators to explain the pattern of mobile phone recharge by prepaid users during the lockdown period.
Source privy to the development told PTI that telecom companies have asked TRAI for time till April 20 to provide the details. The operators have said that assimilating information would require additional time given the ongoing lockdown, and that 24 hour turnaround would be difficult.
The regulator had given operators 24 hours to revert with data on recharge pattern during the lockdown. In similar letters sent out to the operators on April 14, TRAI had asked telcos for data on number of prepaid subscribers whose balance got exhausted and was not recharged on their own (between midnight of March 24 and midnight of April 13, 2020).
"You are also required to provide percentage of such subscribers in terms of total number of prepaid subscribers as on 24th March 2020 midnight," said the letter.
The regulator further asked for data on number of prepaid subscribers whose balance got exhausted but were provided top up of ₹10 or more by the operators or credited additional minutes for voice calls, during the period of lockdown.
It also sought the percentage of such subscribers compared to total number of prepaid subscribers as on March 24.
The regulator has also asked for number of prepaid subscribers whose prepaid balance were over and not recharged during February, along with the percentage of such subscribers against total prepaid user base as on January 31.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that the current lockdown will be extended till May 3, saying it was very necessary to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
It is pertinent to mention here that almost a fortnight back, telecom operators had announced benefits for low income prepaid users to help them tide with ongoing crisis.
Vodafone Idea had announced extension of validity on prepaid plans availed by low-income customers using feature phones till April 17, and ₹10 talktime credit, while Bharti Airtel too had offered extension in the validity period of over 8 crore pre-paid connections until April 17 as well as credited ₹10 talktime in these accounts.
Reliance Jio had offered its JioPhone users 100 minutes of free talktime and 100 free SMS till April 17, and their incoming calls would continue even post validity of their prepaid vouchers.
That said, telecom industry had rejected TRAI's call for extending benefits of talktime credit and extended validity to all prepaid mobile phone user base.
Industry body COAI had previously argued that telecom firms had offered over ₹600 crore of benefits to low-income users to stay connected during nationwide lockdown, and extending it all prepaid users was unjustified.