Issuing a clarification on its earlier order on monthly prepaid recharges, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has provided another 60 days to telecom service providers to comply with the new directive. The telecom sector regulator in January had asked the companies to come out with at least one tariff plan that can be renewed on the same date of every month.
What is the Issue?
Currently, telecom service providers (TSPs), such as Airtel and Vodafone Idea, provide recharge packages with validities of 24 days, 28 days, 56 days and 84 days, among others. As of now, there is no recharge that can cover the whole month of 30 days or 31 days.
Customers have been complaining that with the monthly validity of 28 days, they have to do 13 recharges in 12 months. To sort out this issue, Trai came out with a directive in January.
What is the Trai Directive?
In January, Trai in a notification said, “Every telecom service provider shall offer at least one plan voucher, one special tariff voucher and one combo voucher having a validity of thirty days." It also mandated TSPs to provide a plan that will be renewable on the same day of every month. The companies were asked to comply with the directive within 60 days from the day of the notification.
Now, there was a confusion in the case where a recharge is done on 31st of a month and the same date is not available in the next month. Providing clarity on this, Trai revised the order on Thursdayand said, “Every telecom service provider shall offer at least one plan voucher, one special tariff voucher and one combo voucher which shall be renewable on the same date of every month, and if the date of such renewal is not available in a month, the date of renewal shall be the last date of that month."
The telecom regulator has provided another 60 days to comply with the fresh directive.
What if the Recharge Date is Not Available in Next Month?
The new directive provides clarity on the case where recharge date is not available in the subsequent month. It said if a recharge is done on the 31st of a month, Let’s say January 31, and the same date is not available in the next month (February), then the recharge will be due on February 28 and 29, whichever is the last day of the month.
Impact on Customers?
In a full-month recharge, customers will have to do 12 recharges in a month, one less recharge as compared with the current 13 recharges. This can help customers save some money if the charges are not raised on the monthly recharges to match the current rates.
Also, same date for recharge is easy to remember. Customers will not be confused on the date of recharges if the due date is the same every month.
Downside of this may be the fact that when a customer recharges on January 31 and the next due date stands at February 28 or 29, he/she loses two days on the back of shortfall in the number of days in February.
Issues in implementation
When Trai issued the directive in January this year, telecom service providers had said two months’ time granted by the regulator is inadequate for the implementation of the telecom tariff order “due to technical infeasibility". They pushed for extra time for the implementation of the order.
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