Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a new guidelines to all telecom operators, regarding the deactivation of mobile numbers due to non-usage.

TRAI notes that there is currently a lack of transparency in carrying out these disconnections and consumers are not informed of the terms and conditions of such disconnections, due to which the consumers forfeit the existing balance in their account, when telcos disconnect the mobile numbers.

While this is certainly a welcome move by TRAI, we believe that this could also possibly lead to inflated user base and a significant number of unused numbers.

Guidelines

These regulations are expected to come into force from March 22, 2013 and among the guidelines mandated by TRAI include:

– Telcos should not deactivate mobile numbers of prepaid customers, for any period of non-usage less than 90 days. For the purpose of usage, subscribers can make or receive a voice or video call, send an outgoing SMS or use data or any Value Added Services on the network. In case of postpaid connections, users can also pay rentals to keep the number active.

– Telcos should not deactivate mobile numbers of prepaid customers, if the mobile number has a balance of Rs 20 or above.

– Telcos should implement an automatic number retention facility for prepaid subscribers, to allow them retain the number for a specific amount. We believe this service would come in quite handy to subscribers who travel a lot and would like to stick with their number, since the time period for deactivation of a number is 90 days, which we believe is quite short. However, it is yet to be seen as to how telcos will implement this scheme.

– Telcos should also implement a similar safe custody scheme for postpaid customers, to allow them to retain the number for a specific amount.

– In case of deactivation, the subscriber should be given a grace period of 15 days within which they can reactivate the same number, if necessary.

– Telcos should communicate the terms and conditions of deactivation of SIMs due to non-usage transparently to consumers via its startup kit, tariff leaflets, display on the website, newspaper advertisement every six months and SMS within 10 days from the date these regulations comes into place and every six months thereafter.