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    In an effort to improve ARPU, the leading telecom companies including Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel suspends lifetime validity plans. It restricted prepaid users from making any outgoing calls without unlimited combo packs.

    Though there’s an increased usage of unlimited prepaid packs, many subscribers are still relying on the very old talk time plans. With the recent strategic decision of removing talk time plans, the telecom companies have once again shocked the users by barring outgoing and incoming calls on prepaid numbers.

    Airtel Vodafone Idea Forces Users to opt Unlimited Combo Prepaid Plans:

    When Reliance Jio is being credited for free incoming calls (data being charged), the incumbent private telecom operators gave a rude shock by charging subscribers for the incoming calls. It’s a known fact that these telecom companies are blooding heavily after the introduction of free unlimited calling services by the new entrant Reliance Jio.

    It’s a known fact that these companies are trying desperately to improve their ARPU after showing losses in the balance sheet for the last 2 years. Unless the user is on unlimited prepaid combo plan (including ₹149, ₹199, ₹209, ₹249, ₹295, ₹349, ₹399, ₹499, ₹558 and so on), the outgoing call facility will be barred.

    To be precise, the outgoing facility will be barred on the 15th day after the expiry of the unlimited pack. Similarly, the incoming facility will also be restricted on the 30th day. This means, that the user can’t make or receive a call even if he/she has a balance of ₹1000 as talk time in the account. This is simply a ridiculous move by the telecom operators. Of course, a smart move to increase their ARPU!

    Affects Rural & Old Folks:

    With the advent of dual-SIM handsets and ultra-affordable Reliance Jio unlimited packs, paying at least ₹35 every 28 days may not be a costly affair. However, this new pricing strategy will definitely affect the rural subscribers.

    In most of the cases, the rural users do engage their handsets only for incoming calls. The same can be seen in the older generation. With the new pricing strategy, the telecom companies are forcing these subscribers to pay at least ₹35 every 28 days just to receive incoming calls.

    Also Read: BSNL Takes On Jio with ₹1699 and ₹2099 Annual Plans

    Just for the sake of a marginal increase in ARPU, the telecom companies are ruthlessly burdening their loyal subscribers. Yes, I admit that the above-mentioned users are loyal subscribers in contrast to the younger generation who port their number for the benefits.

    Live Case Study:

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    Here’s an example to prove my point. Today, my dad who’s been sticking to Idea Cellular from a decade was unable to make outgoing calls in spite of having ₹852 talk time in his account. After recharging with ₹35, a talk time of ₹26 plus 100MB data got credited with an outgoing validity of 28 days.

    If the reports are to be believed Vodafone has gone one step ahead and even blocked incoming messages. Thus, if you don’t want to miss OTP’s from bank to complete financial transactions, then go-ahead and recharge now to unblock your number.

    Why should one recharge in spite of having a talk time balance? Just to feed the top telecom companies?

    Possible Implications of the New Pricing Strategy:

    If one happens to analyze the current telecom industry scenario, there are only a few options to consider. Either stick with your current telecom operator by recharging at least ₹35 every 28 days or to port out.

    If the subscriber wants to stick with the present telecom operator (Airtel Vodafone Idea), then what are the recharges available apart from ₹35?

    Prepaid Plan Benefits Outgoing Validity
    ₹35 ₹26 Talktime + 100MB Data 28 days
    ₹65 ₹55 Talktime + 200MB Data + 1 p/s Tariff 28 days
    ₹95 ₹95 Talktime + 500MB Data + 1p/2s Tariff 28 days
    ₹145 ₹145 Talktime + 1GB Data + 1p/2s Tariff 42 days

    Right, what if I want to port out of Airtel Vodafone Idea Cellular service? Here, one can opt either Reliance Jio or BSNL.
    It is to be noted that Reliance Jio allows its subscribers to receive incoming calls even after the expiry of its validity. In case of BSNL, one can enjoy 180 days validity with a single recharge.

    With the entry of Reliance Jio, most of the subscribers made it a second SIM. This is mainly due to the fact portability was not allowed during the initial days. Later on, users ported into Jio without changing their primary number.

    What’s Your Opinion?

    If you already own a Jio 4G SIM then the next best alternative is getting a BSNL or MTNL SIM. Just visit a nearby BSNL office with a port request, pay 108 and get the First Recharge done. Undoubtedly, the state-run telecom operator BSNL will be the biggest gainer in this situation. This will help the users to get rid of monthly fixed minimum commitment.

    Though it may not happen immediately, I strongly believe that a single SIM era will pick-up slowly. Or the dual SIM handset will have Jio and BSNL combo or Airtel/Vodafone/Idea and Jio combo. Whatever may be the configuration, both BSNL and Reliance Jio will be there to serve across the nation.

    Also Read: Airtel Adds Another 1.4GB Daily Data Plan with 75 Days Validity at ₹419

  • @vikas-jadhav

    After a lot of criticism and complaints, the statutory body of the telecommunications sector has finally stepped in.

    If reports are to be believed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has sent separate letters to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea asking them to provide information to the subscribers immediately.

    Clear Information wrt Validity:

    The information should be clear and transparent manner. The SMS should include the details and the validity of the plan. It is said that the SMS should clearly specify the minimum recharge plan. The TRAI also directed that the minimum recharge can also be debited from the subscriber’s prepaid account balance.

    TRAI made it mandatory not to deactivate SIMs till such time the subscriber maintains sufficient balance equal to the minimum recharge amount.

    What’s Your Opinion?

    The latest decision by TRAI is nothing more than an eyewash for the millions of rural and downtrodden people. In the name of bumping ARPU, the telecom companies can’t charge for the incoming facility.

    Hope TRAI warns the Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea companies to reconsider their new pricing strategy.

  • @mrinal-chauhan

    Just received the following message on my Airtel number which has an unlimited recharge plan of ₹448.

    Please Note! Base tariff for your Airtel Mobile has been changed w.e.f. 22-Nov-18.
    You are required to pay Rs23 or more for 28 days validity. Else you can opt for unlimited/smart recharge from your main account balance.
    Dial 12151#.
    Ignore if recharged

    It is highly disappointing to note that TRAI (instead of helping the customers) is trying the best to bail out these top telecom companies! By asking the telecom companies to send the SMS, TRAI has officially approved and thus put an end to free incoming calls for the lifetime.

    This is totally unfair!!

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