Prepaid mobile users may get to do one less recharge a year, but savings are not assured

Prepaid mobile users may get to do one less recharge a year, but savings are not assured
Representational imageBusiness Insider India
  • India’s telecom regulator, TRAI, has mandated telcos to offer at least one 30-day “monthly” recharge plans for prepaid users.
  • TRAI had floated a discussion paper last year in this regard, but faced opposition from telecom operators and their advocacy group, COAI.
  • As a result of this order, prepaid recharge users will be able to recharge 12 times a year, instead of 13 “monthly” plans.
India’s telecom regulator is back with another consumer-friendly directive to the telecom operators – offer at least one 30-day prepaid recharge plan, which has been a long-standing demand of many prepaid users in the country.

In its first order for 2022, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) directed telcos to offer “at least one plan voucher, one special tariff voucher and one combo voucher” with a 30-day validity, and which shall be renewable on the same date every month.

This consumer-friendly move comes after TRAI floated a consultation paper last year.

Unsurprisingly, most telecom operators, and their advocacy group, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), were against the movie, stating that the practice of offering 28-day validity is decade-long and consumers are well versed with it.

However, consumer advocacy groups continued to push for the 30-day proposal, citing consumer convenience.


What is this issue about?

Telecom operators had the practice of calling their 28-day plans as “monthly”, but had to drop the name after the regulator’s intervention. However, the connotation seems to have stuck with prepaid users, who have complained that these plans force them to recharge 13 times a year despite there being 12 months.

If telecom operators play fair, they might start offering 30-day recharge plans at existing prices, since technically, a 30-day plan is much closer to being “monthly” than a 28-day offering.

Will this help me save my prepaid mobile recharge bills?

In short, not necessarily.

Telecom operators could technically offer a name-sake 30-day plan as required by TRAI, after proportionately increasing the price for 2 days when compared to a similar 28-day plan.

This would wipe out the possibility of any savings despite having to do one less recharge a year.

It remains to be seen how the telecom operators approach this.


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