COVID-19 lockdown: Jio, Vodafone Idea offer prepaid validity extension for low-income feature phone subscribers

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Published: April 1, 2020 12:45:44 AM

The development came after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) earlier asked all telecom operators to extend the validity of talk-time of their pre-paid subscribers so that they continue to get uninterrupted services.

There are around 500 million smartphone users in the country and there are users on the 4G network who recharge through online mode and are not affected by the lockdown.There are around 500 million smartphone users in the country and there are users on the 4G network who recharge through online mode and are not affected by the lockdown.

After Bharti Airtel, BSNL and MTNL, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea on Tuesday extended the validity of low-income prepaid users till April 17 as many of them would have faced difficulty in recharging their mobile phones due to lockdown across the country. Bharti Airtel and state-run BSNL/MTNL had announced such measures on Monday.

According to Reliance Jio, the company will give JioPhone users 100 minutes of calls and 100 SMS free anywhere in the country till April 17 and all the JioPhone users will continue to receive incoming calls even after the validity period is over. Similarly, Vodafone Idea said it would extend the validity of low-income customers using feature phones till April 17 and will credit Rs 10 in the account of nearly 100 million feature phone customers.

The development came after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) earlier asked all telecom operators to extend the validity of talk-time of their pre-paid subscribers so that they continue to get uninterrupted services.

Around 95% of the country’s 1 billion mobile subscriber base is in the pre-paid segment and of this around half would be 2G users, who use feature phones. It is this category of users who recharge their pre-paid plans through offline mode by visiting the retailers. There are around 500 million smartphone users in the country and there are users on the 4G network who recharge through online mode and are not affected by the lockdown.

While Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have sizeable 2G users, even Reliance Jio, which otherwise has full 4G network and users, has low-end users on its JioPhone where recharges are done through retailers.

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