Indian Telcos Ask TRAI Not to Restructure Validity Span of Prepaid Plans

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India's top telcos, Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio on Monday asked the TRAI on Monday not the intervene in matters related to fixing validity spans of prepaid tariffs, according to a report by ET Telecom.

The telcos have urged the telecom regulator not to intervene when it comes to the fixing of prepaid tariff validity spans and keep this particular issue under forbearance, stating that this type of intervention is unwarranted and might result in the disruption of mobile tariff structures which would hurt the consumers.

The market leader, Jio has suggested that the TRAI issue an advisory that calls on telcos to offer one prepaid plan voucher, special tariff voucher and combo voucher with a 30-day validity to meet the needs and address the complaints in regards to the 28-day validity currently in place.

In case you missed it, TRAI in May had mentioned that it was being plagued by multiple complaints from users who felt that they were being cheated as they had to recharge 13 times in a year for a monthly plan.

In relation to this issue, Jio, as part of its submission to the regular mentioned that it had launched prepaid tariffs with a validity of 30,60 and 90 days that would address the concerns that the TRAI had received.

What Do Other Companies Have to Say

Consumer Voice, the leading mobile consumer association though said that it was sceptical and would like the TRAI to standardise all tariff validity spans to either“1 day, 7 days, 15 days or 1-month variants and make all other validity periods in the market, invalid.

The telcos however dismissed this suggestion stating that this would be infeasible and that such a move would go against consumer behaviour, as most prepaid users opt to recharge 2 or 3 days post the expiry date.

Bharti Airtel, in its submission, mentioned that the policy of forbearance on setting validity of tariff must continue, as a selective ex-ante intervention on a particular non-price aspect of tariff framework, such as validity, would end up forcing service providers to adjust or rebalance other important price aspects of the tariff.

Jio too backed this view stating that realigning the validity of current recharges would not make business sense and would rather force them to come up with new price-points.

Vodafone Idea said that any kind of change to the current 28, 56 and 84 days prepaid structure would be quite massive and would require gigantic efforts when it comes to consumer awareness, configurations in billing systems, publications in own as well as third-party channels and retail channel education.

Furthermore, the cash-strapped telco Vodafone Idea has urged the TRAI to see all such tariff-related issues holistically and conclude the pending consultation depending on floor pricing for data services on priority.

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Shloke is your go-to guy when it comes to consumer tech. Specializing in In-Depth pieces, he's also getting to grips with Telecom. His hobbies consist of Formula One and Gaming.


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