The extension will help keep millions stay connected during the pandemic
India’s operators have taken a number of emergency measures, big and small, to ensure their customers remain connected during the coronavirus pandemic, from crediting accounts with extra voice data to swapping their network names to things like “Vodafone-Be Safe” and “BSNL Stay at Home”.
As of last month, the Department of Telecommunications has even mandated telcos to change their ‘caller tune’ (a message played before the phone rings) to coronavirus-related health advice, advising people to regularly wash their hands and encouraging social distancing.
Now, a number of Indian operators, including the largest trio of Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel, and Reliance Jio, have extended their customers’ prepaid validity to the 3rd of May, meaning they can receive incoming calls even if their plan has expired.
The telcos initially granted additional prepaid validity for their customers back in March at the behest of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), extending the validity to mid-April. However, with India having around 18,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and lockdown continuing, they have taken the decision to give their customers another fortnight of emergency connectivity.
"This will not only benefit low-income users but also benefit everyone who is unable to do a recharge during these challenging times," said Reliance Jio said in a statement.
When announcing this extension, Airtel noted that around 30 million people have been unable to top up their prepaid mobile accounts during the coronavirus.
If the lockdown is forced to continue in India during May, as seems likely in any number of countries around the world, cusomers may require their prepaid validity to be extended once again, so we may well see another similar announcement in a few weeks time.
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