TRAI calls for prepaid assistance during lockdown extension

TRAI calls for prepaid assistance during lockdown extension

Indian regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has asked operators to submit usage data for their prepaid subscribers so that it can determine how best to assist them.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, India is currently under a lockdown that was due to end today (17th April) but has now been extended until 3rd May. TRAI wants operators’ user data to determine how subscriber habits were affected during the lockdown, and what assistance can be provided.

The majority of subscribers in India are prepaid, and while data usage has spiked during the lockdown, retailers selling airtime have been forced to close, leaving many with no option for topping up their credit. In response, many operators began offering free credit schemes.

TRAI has requested data on such programmes from the country’s main private operators Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea,  Bharti Airtel, as well as state-run BSNL and MTNL. It has also asked for information on how many subscribers were unable to top up prior to the lockdown, and how many ran out of credit during the three-week stretch.

Once TRAI has received and assessed the data, it will be able to make recommendations on allowing prepaid subscribers to stay connected during the extended lockdown period. The regulator has also asked operators to extend all prepaid accounts until 3rd May – a request with which the country’s private operators have already complied.

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