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Coronavirus lockdown: BSNL, MTNL extend prepaid validity till April 20, Airtel till April 17

The goal behind these measures is to ensure the weaker section of the society remains connected in these challenging times.

State-run BSNL and MTNL are extending the prepaid pack validity for their subscribers till April 20 in line with sector regulator TRAI’s directive for all telecom operators in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak. This means subscribers can continue to receive incoming calls even after the validity of their prepaid plan is exhausted. BSNL and MTNL will also credit an additional Rs 10 worth of talk-time in their prepaid accounts so they can continue making phone calls or sending SMS even after zero balance.

Union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote on microblogging website Twitter that extending the prepaid validity by April 20 and providing Rs 10 worth of additional talk-time even after zero balance will “enable poor people to make calls for help even if they don’t have any balance left.”

Airtel has separately announced that it is extending the prepaid pack validity for over 80 million ‘under-privileged’ subscribers till April 17. Like BSNL and MTNL, Airtel is also going to credit an additional Rs 10 worth of talk-time in their prepaid accounts that can be encashed for making calls or sending SMS. Airtel said it will roll out these ‘benefits’ to users in the next 48 hours.

The 80 million subscriber figure ‘effectively’ covers all under-privileged households on the Airtel network, the telecom operator said in a statement, adding that these special measures will particularly benefit migrant workers and daily wage earners who may be impacted during India’s 21-day novel coronavirus lockdown.

The goal behind these measures is to ensure the weaker section of the society remains connected in these challenging times. More telcos are expected to join in soon.

As per a TRAI directive, all telecom operators in India must take necessary steps, including extending the prepaid validity for users to ensure uninterrupted services, at least until the lockdown is in effect.

“You are required to take necessary steps as deemed fit including extending the validity period to ensure that all prepaid subscribers can enjoy uninterrupted services during the period of lockdown,” TRAI said on Sunday. The sector regulator has also sought details from all the telecom operators in India about the steps that they’re taking to ensure availability of uninterrupted services on a priority basis.

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