Vodafone Idea on Tuesday announced extension of validity on prepaid plans availed by low income customers using feature phones till April 17, and Rs 10 talktime credit to help such users stay connected during the lockdown to contain coronavirus pandemic.
Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Monday had announced an extension in the validity period of more than 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 MTNL too have announced they will extend validity period of their prepaid mobile services till April 20 and offered Rs 10 additional talktime 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 Limited (VIL)...today announced extension in 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 anounced a talktime 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.
Customers availing Vodafone Idea's services via smartphones can continue to recharge their accounts using online and digital platforms, it said.
Sector regulator Trai on Sunday had asked telecom operators to extend prepaid validity period to ensure that subscribers get uninterrupted services during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has also sought details of the steps taken to ensure 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 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 number of COVID-19 cases has crossed 1250 in India.