Mobile Operators Could Charge ‘Safe Custody’ Charges for Inactive Prepaid Connections to Keep Numbers Alive

All current 10 digit mobile phone number series in India are rapidly being used up and coming closer to capacity, to handle this  “serious problem” India’s mobile phone service operators have suggested to the TRAI that prepaid subscribers should be charged a number fee (same as safe custody service of Landline service) if they want to keep their connections inactive for more than 2 months.

 'Safe Custody' Charges for Inactive Prepaid Connections

India’s largest mobile service provider Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular Reliance Communications, Tata Docomo and BSNL said this in response to the TRAI’s consultation paper on deactivation of  inactive prepaid mobile SIM cards /connections.

All private operators proposed to an annual fee of Rs.300 to Rs.600 as ‘Safe Custody’ facility for prepaid customers to retain their mobile number even after long continuous periods of non-usage.

According to TRAI, about 200 million prepaid connections in the India are inactive, of which around 55 million have remained unused for more than 6 months. Many customers get used as spare connections, a large chunk remains inactive as we can see the VLR data from telecos, which seems to be a concern of TRAI, and something which they will be looking at during this problem.

Airtel said that  prepaid customers could be allowed to use a recharge voucher (same as Airtel’s existing Number Locker Service) for activating the service. Airtel prepaid subscribers could end up paying 150 for six months, or Rs.300 a year, to prevent their numbers from being deactivated.

By paying  Rs.50 per month, any mobile subscriber should be able to retain their mobile connections even after long continuous periods of non-usage, BSNL told TRAI.

Tata Docomo (Tata Teleservices) said said the cost of acquiring a subscriber and maintenance was substantial. Therefore, the subscriber should be given a chance to become active by paying a monthly retention charge. However, telcos must be allowed to decide the monthly charge and terms. On average, a mobile phone company spends about 100-150 on maintenance of every inactive SIM.

Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) suggested that a safe custody process should be provided to the customer wherein any customer desirous of retaining his number for a longer period which is getting into a zero usage cycle can do so by paying charges for the same and reactivate his / her number at the later date of his choice.

All service provider also suggest that an outgoing voice call, outgoing SMS, VAS usage, Data usage or activation of a voucher should be considered in the scope of activity with regard to the criteria for deactivation of SIM’s upon non-usage.

After recent massive disconnections of inactive prepaid mobile conection by all major operators, India’s Telecom Watchdog TRAI had sought the mobile service operators views on defining inactive mobile users and the period after which the numbers should be canceled, among other things.

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  • edison edward - Saudi arabia May 11, 2015 12:12 pm

    pls help to do active safe custody. because i just started work with MNC in Saudi Arabia. from very long years i am using particular number and many of contacting have been going on day through life. that is why i am i am passionate with my number.
    kindly pls help to do activate sim safe custody.
    best regards

  • tina August 26, 2013 1:19 pm

    Hi.. I just wanted to know if the proposed amendment has been done? What is the new limit? 45days? 60days? 90days? I have an airtel prepaid and wont be able to use it for 4months.. can I keep it alive or its as good as shot? Thanks..

    • Maaz Kalim August 26, 2013 6:38 pm

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  • Venky January 2, 2013 11:45 pm

    Recently I have noticed that on 31 and 1st Jan 2013 my reliance special plan have been disabled and my call charges went to 1rs per min, which is totally unfair to any customers. Why our look in to this issue.

    • atanu January 5, 2013 3:06 pm


  • Jagan T January 2, 2013 9:11 pm

    The new SIM card price should be Rs 200, which filter the casual buyers. And safe custody charge of Rs 150/6 months can also be charged to retain the number from disconnection.

  • Prithvi January 2, 2013 12:49 pm

    The outgoing calls under such circumstances should be made allowed if the user chooses de-activation of number made available only thru’ IVR. This way the user can also cut off the connection if he doesn’t want it. Welcome move but if Rs.100-150 is the maintenance fee for service providers, why are they giving it free of cost to customers in the beginning?

  • raj January 2, 2013 10:31 am

    this is illogical.suppose a person stays in another state for job/studies & comes to home only once/twice in 6 months and uses the local number then what happens to that? I think some operators already have rule like min.recharge of RS.200 must be done in 180 days to avoid disconnection.Two months inactivity time for this new rule is too much.Looks like companies gone crazy.

  • Wangsuk Dapru January 2, 2013 10:17 am

    Safe custody on chargeable basis for 6/12 months is a very good option only genuine customers will retain the numbers and use and throw ones will get recycled. and long duration like 6 months and 12 months will be really helpful for Senior Citizens. Also to add TRAI must make it mandatory to have a atleast 5 outgoing call as well as 10 SMSes for reminding the expiry of safe custody. 1st reminder 30 days before expiry 2nd reminder 15 days before expiry, then SMS to be started 7-8 days prior to expiry and calls to start again from 3 days prior to expiry followed by a 7 days grace period and then final deactivation.

  • analkundu January 2, 2013 9:38 am

    Think some innovative…Instead phone no. make an “ID’ for a single person. That ID will be his Universal Phone No. To access or change operator Use an “authorization key” of respective operator.
    => Operator should give offer with new authorization key
    => Customer should have the choice to change or use multiple ID (regulated by TRAI). They may use Multiple id simultaneously like using dual sim phone.
    1. No sim card no. problem as mentioned in the article
    2. No MNP needed.
    3. Annoying sim card change problem will be gone
    4. No dual sim/ triple sim phone needed.
    5. Good for National sequrity.

    Its just an idea in this innovative techno world. May be it will be the Future technology.

    • Maaz Kalim July 30, 2013 1:29 pm

      Good idea! But it’s not very easy as suggesting! And I don’t think that it will help much in ‘national security’ as intelligence agencies are still able to invade anyone’s ‘privacy’ very easily and that too by saying few words and without any evidence almost in all ‘cases’. 🙂

  • Arun January 2, 2013 8:27 am

    Hi all,
    Currently , this service is free in BSNL . For Eg… Send sms as “KEEP CONNECTED FROM 02-01-2013 TO 02-07-2013” to 53733 . Your SIM service will not be disconnected till the mention date . After that you can repeat the same .

  • Idris January 1, 2013 8:44 pm

    Registration fee for new prepaid should be Rs 250/- that will help the service providers to get the genuine users, if we see sim cards are sold free to Rs. 50/- with initial benefits of Rs 50/- to Rs.1000/-. If an existing customer wants to recharge with Rs. 50/- He will get a talk time of Rs.45 aprox. But if he wants to purchase a sim card of Rs.30/- He can get 1gb gprs, Talktime =100 and Sms = 500, Who would not go for Rs 30 ??? Telcom companies are creating the problems them selves. They are blaming the consumers ?? Its not fair. The new sim registration charge should be at least 250/- Then we will see the difference,( The current 45 days system is rubbish if some goes abroad for a tour or official work its not fair to disconnect his services.

  • M January 1, 2013 8:03 pm

    off topic…since yesterday people here are unable to make call from airCel to airTel and vice versa, when they try to do so it is said that ‘the number does not exist’.
    Though airTel-airTel and airCel-airCel are working fine.
    Is the same happening every where in country or only in Gaya(Bihar)..?

    • S.Sudhakar January 1, 2013 10:28 pm

      All are working normally in Tamilnadu.

    • Saket.sharma January 2, 2013 10:03 am

      Yes my frnd… I too faced this prob at Gaya.. U r right…

  • Jagannath January 1, 2013 7:37 pm

    Aircel is not India’s biggest network?

  • kavin January 1, 2013 7:30 pm

    excellent move..
    i suggest they can charge special vouchers rs.250 zero benefit/year or can charge rs. 750/year with talk time add rs.600..
    just to increase the no login duration of 6 month to 12 month before deactivation…

  • S.Sudhakar January 1, 2013 7:29 pm

    I welcome this move. All operators must launch number locker service. My parents are in Gulf (arab) country and both of them use India SIM to receive bank alerts about all transactions. Since they are not here if their number gets cancelled, I will not be able to write to the bank for changing the mobile number for the accounts of my parents name. So I enabled number locker service for their numbers. This is useful.

    Another benefit is that I save on huge SMS charge of Rs.5 per international SMS since SMS is sent only to their India number which costs equal to a local SMS (Rs.1.00 maximum per SMS). After number locker is enabled, international roaming monthly rental is not charged. So Rs.600 for 2 years number locker means Rs.25 per month (against international roaming rental of Rs.99 per month).

    So this number locker facility is beneficial to me.

  • rag January 1, 2013 7:17 pm


  • Rahul January 1, 2013 5:00 pm

    Price of Tata Salt is more than Tata SIM

    Increase the cost of a Sim to Rs. 200 and see the difference.

    All companies should re-use all the numbers immediately once they expire. Same as domain names. Put them in auction on website. If a customer is so keen to keep the number, S/he goes with postpaid billing to retain the number till he pays bills. Prepaid numbers are basically for tourists and not for local people.

  • Arif January 1, 2013 4:18 pm

    In year 2003, I have taken my first mobile and prepaid connection of airtel. That time the cost of SIM card is Rs.249/-, it was MTV SIM card, co-branded. And that time every operator’s SIM card was between Rs.199/- to Rs.249/-. And now if you see every one is selling a SIM card at every corner of city like fruits. Now cost of SIM card is very less or FREE and extra talk time and other benefits. So it is obvious that this will happen.
    All the operator should stop selling the SIM the way they are doing and charge around Rs.199/- per SIM without any benefits, this way only serious buyer will take SIM and people will not change the SIM regular basis.

    • Pca sam January 1, 2013 7:26 pm

      Yes ur corect every operater should stop selling sim at free of cost

    • Jagannath January 1, 2013 7:41 pm

      The price of sim is between 299-199 rupees till 2008-09. After that the lifetime sim cards sells like use and throw pens.

    • S.Sudhakar January 1, 2013 10:38 pm

      I also got that pack. Till 2005 Airtel Tamilnadu introduced unlimited SMS (local, STD and ISD too) pack for Rs.99 per month.

      Till 2006, airtel has 4 starter packs i) Talk more, ii) Talk more 49, iii) Students pack and iv) Students 49 pack

      Benefits of i) was Local mobile call at Rs.0.75 per min and Local landline at Rs.1.20 per min.

      Benefits of ii) was Local mobile calls at Rs.0.49 per min and local landline same as i). Monthly rental of Rs.49

      Benefiits of iii) was local mobile at Rs.1.00 per min and local landline at Rs.2.00 per min. Local mobile group (call between 3 numbers from 9 PM to 9 AM at Rs.0.30 per min) can be created by dialling *110#. No rental for the group. Local SMS upto 100 free and sms will not go beyond that.

      Benefits of iv) was Local mobile call at Rs.0.49 per min and Local landline at Rs.1.50 per min. No group facility. Monthly rental of Rs.49. SMS benefit same as iii).

      Till now I have the scanned copy of the STUDENTS PACK BROCHURE !!!.

  • benoy January 1, 2013 4:00 pm

    hi, yesterday i complaint Tata
    docomo regarding that we can
    only call customer care once in
    a day.
    its the reply i received from
    “And also note that as per TRAI
    rules you can connect to the
    care number only once in a day.
    I request you to check the same.

    can you please confirm me the

  • Dhillon January 1, 2013 2:57 pm

    Telecom operates wants to sell connections like cookies and now suffering with shortage.

  • AMIT January 1, 2013 1:17 pm

    there should be KATIL POLICI FOR NON USE CONNECTION>>>>>>

  • sand January 1, 2013 12:49 pm


    A charge levied could be good as that would deter some users from using many sims just for the sake of it.Also people who may be on roaming and hence decided to not use his/her number for more than 3 -6 months should also be given a chance to retain the number.But isnt the amount proposed too much???TRAI needs to think and fix a reasonable amount rather than directly implementing wat operators suggest as these guys are out there to milk money from consumers as very soon one more lucrative option of revenue viz.,roaming is about to stop.

    • Harris January 1, 2013 6:00 pm

      The First step is to Abolish Roaming charges, once we have an all India single number and no roaming charges attached to that could the Operators justify safe custody charges,
      I do have a lot of roaming areas and I have to stay there for quite sometime, but not regularly, but a couple of times every year for about 10 days.
      So I have to keep sim cards from all circles – Mumbai – Maharashtra – Gujarat – Rajasthan – Madhya Pradesh- Andhra Pradesh – Kolkata,

      So Once the roaming charges are abolished I would happily surrender my Numbers which are occasionally used.

      TRAI – Implement the roaming rules first then go towards safe custody charges.

      They just want to make money out of everything now a days!!

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