In a big relief to the low-income groups, private telcos Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea extended the validity for their pre-paid mobile accounts till May 3.

Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea extended the validity of incoming services for the prepaid accounts of low-income groups. Their accounts will be valid till 3rd May when the nationwide lockdown is slated to end.

“Many of these customers have been able to recharge through several channels activated by Airtel including – ATMs, Post Offices, grocery stores, and chemist shops, in addition to digital channels. However, close to 30 million such customers have still not been able to recharge their pre-paid mobile accounts,” Airtel said in a statement.

Last month, both the telecom operators had extended the validity of prepaid plans till 17th April for the low-income groups or feature phone users. The telcos had also added an amount of Rs 10 in the accounts of feature phone users and low-income customers. Reliance Jio had also announced the provision of 100 minutes of calls and SMS free of cost to JioPhone users. The telecom operator also said that the accounts of its users won’t be suspended if they fail to recharge.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) on 9th April said that to ensure that the low-income groups who are unable to recharge their prepaid accounts get access to telecom services, member telcos had extended the validity of their accounts and provided them with talk time benefits so that they can make essential calls.

“The customers who actually required support from the telecom service providers for the continuation of their services in the initial period of lockdown are in the range of 80- 100 million whereas our member operators have collectively extended the benefits for the continuation of services to around 280-300 million subscribers,” wrote COAI.


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