The demand for mobile connectivity has soared and reached a new level. People are consuming more content than ever because of being forced to stay inside their homes during the lockdown. The lockdown was further extended by PM Modi yesterday until May 3, 2020. This is why Trai believes telcos should extend the validity of current prepaid plans. Even though this is not an absolute liability for the telcos, they should come out on their own and announce it to show support. People are going to be inside their homes for a few more days, and they are likely to consume even more content in the coming days. Already, telecom operators were said to credit Rs 600 crore worth of free benefits to prepaid users during this tough situation.
Trai Asked Telcos to do a Similar Thing Before
Trai had asked the telcos to see if they could extend the prepaid subscription of their users when the lockdown was imposed. In a letter to the telcos, Trai told them that users who are looking to top-up or recharge their plans might face problems due to lockdown so they should ideally extend their subscription. Most of the people living in rural areas don’t recharge their phones online by themselves. Instead, they go to a local vendor to get it done. Because now the lockdown is extended, their originally extended plan might be over. This is why telcos should extend the plan and support people staying inside their homes.
Operators are Going to Monitor the Situation and Decide Accordingly
The telecom operators are monitoring the situation of the country and will make a decision which is the most suitable for them at the time. Telcos such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited had already extended their prepaid plans for their customers giving them a plan validity until April 17, 2020. Trai assured the operators that they would be compensated for all the losses which they face due to the extension of their prepaid plans. There is a possibility that the subsidy to the operators can be offered with the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) which has Rs 51,500 crore cash lying idle with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).