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TRAI tells telcos to extend prepaid users’ plan validity during lockdown

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has told all telecom operators to extend the validity of their prepaid users’ subscribed plans in a letter. Telcos “are required to take necessary steps as deemed fit including extending the validity period to ensure that all prepaid subscribers can enjoy uninterrupted services during the period of lockdown,” the letter said, telling the operators to get back to the regulator on implementation “on priority basis”. The Economic Times first reported this development.

TRAI said that while the telecom infrastructure is up and running, stores selling recharges are shut, which might prevent some people from buying recharges if they don’t have digital payment methods. MediaNama has reached out to the COAI, which represents wireless telecom operators, for comment.

This request comes a few days after telcos wrote to TRAI and streaming services asking that the latter’s data use on their network be reduced. That request was successful, and streaming services agreed to reduce their videos’ bit rates.

Telcos, making the most of the volatile situation, had also asked TRAI on March 21 to allow them to offer certain websites for free, in violation of Net Neutrality regulations. “As an effort by Operators to assist customers during these challenging times, we suggest that charges for Data and Voice for Certain Websites and Telephone Numbers offering information related to COVID-19 Pandemic be waived for access by active subscribers,” the industry association said in a letter to the regulator.

ReadTRAI should not allow zero-rating of websites because of COVID-19

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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