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


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edison edward
May 11, 2015 12:12 pm 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

August 26, 2013 1:19 pm 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 6:38 PM

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January 2, 2013 11:45 pm 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.

January 5, 2013 3:06 pm 3:06 PM


Jagan T
January 2, 2013 9:11 pm 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.

January 2, 2013 12:49 pm 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?

January 2, 2013 10:31 am 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 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… Read more »
January 2, 2013 9:38 am 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. Pros.: 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.… Read more »
Maaz Kalim
July 30, 2013 1:29 pm 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’. 🙂

January 2, 2013 8:27 am 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 .

January 1, 2013 8:44 pm 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… Read more »

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