Vodafone Idea Offers Prepaid Validity Extension For Low-Income Feature Phone Subscribers
A customer exits a Vodafone Idea Ltd. store in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

Vodafone Idea Offers Prepaid Validity Extension For Low-Income Feature Phone Subscribers


Vodafone Idea Ltd. on Tuesday announced an extension of the validity on prepaid plans availed by low-income customers using feature phones till April 17, and Rs 10 talk time credit to help such users stay connected during the lockdown to contain coronavirus pandemic.

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel Ltd. on Monday had announced an extension in the validity period of more than Rs 8 crore pre-paid connections until April 17 as well as credited talk time of Rs 10 in these accounts.

State-owned telecom operators BSNL and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. too have announced they will extend the validity period of their prepaid mobile services till April 20 and offered Rs 10 additional talk time even after zero balance, to enable users, especially poor and underprivileged, to stay connected during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

"The unprecedented situation arising from the outbreak of Covid-19 has created several hardships, especially for low income, prepaid customers using feature phones. To ensure that such customers remain connected amidst these troubled times, Vodafone Idea Ltd....today announced an extension in the validity of its prepaid plans, availed by low-income customers using feature phones, till 17th April 2020," VIL said in a statement.

The free extension in plan validity duration will enable millions of feature phone users of both Vodafone and Idea to continue to receive incoming calls, even if the validity of their plan expires earlier, the statement said. It has also announced a talk time credit of Rs 10 in the account of nearly 100 million feature phone users to help them stay connected with their family and friends by making calls or sending text messages.

"This talk time is being credited in the accounts of all eligible customers, as fast as possible, over the coming days," the statement added. Commenting on the latest move, Avneesh Khosla, marketing director, Vodafone Idea said, "Our customers must remain connected without worrying about any disruption, especially in these troubled times. Extending plan validity and crediting talk time will particularly benefit migrant workers and daily wage earners, whose lives and livelihoods have been most unsettled due to the precautionary lockdown".

The company's network teams are already operating round-the-clock to ensure seamless connectivity, Khosla added. With this special initiative for low-income feature phone users, Vodafone Idea customers can now continue to remain fully connected and access relevant, latest updates from local authorities, the company said.

Also read: Coronavirus Updates: India Enters 7th Day Of Lockdown With 1,251 Covid-19 Cases, 32 Deaths

Customers availing Vodafone Idea's services via smartphones can continue to recharge their accounts using online and digital platforms, it said. Sector regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Sunday had asked telecom operators to extend the prepaid validity period to ensure that subscribers get uninterrupted services during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

TRAI has also sought details of the steps taken to ensure the availability of uninterrupted telecom services to such customers on a "priority basis". Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24 had announced a complete lockdown of the entire country for 21 days in an unprecedented move to try to halt the spread of coronavirus, shortly after which the Centre said road, rail, and air services will remain suspended during this period.

As on Tuesday morning, the pandemic had claimed 32 lives in the country and the number of Covid-19 cases has crossed 1,250 in India.

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