Telecom Watchdog, a non-profit organisation (NGO), said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) must look at the base prepaid tariffs that offer SMS benefits to consumers. The NGO wrote a letter to the regulator calling out the prepaid tariff hikes from Vodafone Idea (Vi), resulting in the base prepaid tariff with SMS benefit becoming the Rs 179 plan. Telecom Watchdog said that this tariff was very high compared to the competition.
Anil Kumar, Founder, Telecom Watchdog, confirmed to TelecomTalk about the letter being sent to the regulator regarding the issue. Vodafone Idea had implemented a tariff hike on November 25, 2021.
Telecom Watchdog Looks After Consumer Interests, Asks Why Should SMS Plans be So Expensive
Vodafone Idea (Vi) is offering its prepaid plan with SMS benefits starting at Rs 179. Kumar said that due to such an expensive SMS plan, people are losing out on the ability to send port-out SMSes.
For porting out, an SMS needs to be sent to TRAI’s central number - 1900. But people who can only afford the base plan of Vi, which comes for Rs 99, can’t do the port out activity since they don’t have SMS benefits with their plan. In comparison, Airtel is offering its SMS plan for the most affordable rate compared to Jio and Vi (after tariff hikes).
Kumar said since SMSes doesn’t cost this high, what is the need to keep the price of SMS plans so high? According to Kumar, this is a simple move from the telco to restrict users from porting out to other networks. This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by TRAI.
This is a question of consumer interest. It is not just that the SMS plans have become way too expensive for a large number of Indians, but also that is the mechanism in place for porting out the right one? TRAI needs to bring in a better mechanism that allows users to comfortably port out to their choice of the network without worrying about the costs involved.