No more extension of tariff relief to migrant workers: Telcos

Mumbai: Telecom operators are not planning to extend their tariff relief measures targeted at migrant labourers any more, saying that recharge options for those prepaid customers are now available in most places with stores opening in non-containment zones.

“With the opening up of the mobile retail recharge locations in each state and with the activation of the common service centres in rural areas, we believe the needs of both rural and urban customers are addressed,” said Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). The association represents private players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio Infocomm.

“This is in addition to staffing at kiranas, medical stores, ATMs and other locations that are also available for recharging. Operators believe this presently addresses the needs of customers,” said Mathews.

Vodafone idea said on Wednesday that in UP (West) telecom circle, prepaid mobile phone users who are unable to recharge using digital channels can avail recharge facility from more than 6,500 kirana outlets and medical stores across cities and towns in the region.

Within a week of the announcement of lockdown from March 25, telcos had extended the prepaid validity of their low-income subscribers till April 17 and further to May 3 on subsequent announcement of lockdown extension. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea also credited Rs 10 talk time credit to such users whereas Reliance Jio gave 100 minutes of free talk time and 100 text messages to all its users.

This was an important step taken by the telcos in the beginning of nationwide lockdown, when thousands of migrants were desperately trying to head home, with an aim to ensure all remain connected.

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