After receiving complaints from subscribers on discontinuation of some prepaid plans, Trai chairman R S Sharma on Wednesday said the regulator has issued directions to telecom operators to inform users about the validity of their plans as well as provide options to them to opt for available plans.
After receiving complaints from subscribers on discontinuation of some prepaid plans, Trai chairman R S Sharma on Wednesday said the regulator has issued directions to telecom operators to inform users about the validity of their plans as well as provide options to them to opt for available plans. “Mobile tariff plans are under forbearance and Trai does not generally intervene in this, but if there is sufficient money in a subscriber’s account and despite this he or she is being told that their services will be disconnected, it is a serious matter. We have issued directions in this regard on Tuesday,” Sharma told reporters.
The regulator met with telecom operators on Monday and based on their inputs during the deliberations, it issued the necessary directions, Trai sources said. Subscribers have complained that they receive SMSs for mandatory recharge of their prepaid numbers in order to keep availing services, even though their accounts have sufficient balance.
Trai directed operators to “Inform subscribers in a clear and transparent manner the date on which the validity of their existing plan expires and the manner in which subscribers can opt for other plans, including minimum recharge plans”. This information is to be provided to subscribers within 72 hours, the directive said adding “Till such time the services of such subscribers, who have balance in their prepaid accounts equal to the minimum recharge amount, should not be deactivated”.
This issue relates to Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel deciding to switch-off low Arpu (average realisation per user) subscribers – those who spend less than R35 a month – from their network. The number of such SIMs is roughly 250 million. These SIMs could face discontinuation of services if they are not charged with plans having the lowest re-charge amount of Rs 35 a month.
The move will help Bharti and Vodafone Idea to check their declining Arpu, which stood at Rs 101 and Rs 88, respectively for the July-September quarter. Reliance Jio’s Arpu is higher at `131 and that’s because its lowest plan comes at Rs 49 a month. Another reason for these companies to switch-off low paying 2G users is that they want to shut down their 2G networks and move subscribers to 4G.