Nov 30: Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have been pulled up by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) with regard to their minimum recharge plans. The move comes post complaints from prepaid subscribers of the two telecom companies stating that they received messages of mandatory recharge of their accounts to continue using them. They also stated that the accounts contained sufficient balance while receiving the messages.
The operators were asked to inform its subscribers, the date on which the validity of an existing plan would expire and how they can choose other plans within three days by TRAI. The plans will also include a minimum recharge plan using the customer’s present prepaid account balance.
TRAI stated that the services of the customers with the minimum recharge amount in prepaid accounts must not be discontinued by the telecom operators.
In order to improve the average revenue per user (ARPU) and concentrate on profitable customers, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea introduced minimum recharge plans in the first half of November 2018. With 28-day validity, the company rolled out a set of sub-Rs 100 prepaid plans at Rs 35, Rs 5 and Rs 95.
With the newly added recharge plans, the companies’ aims to build a competitive advantage over its rival Reliance Jio Infocomm. Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio, the latest entrant in the telecom market with lowest the data and call charges leads the market. A tight tariff was going on between the telecom companies post Jio’s entry in the market.
Gopal Vittal, Chief Executive Officer, Airtel mentioning the minimum recharge plans, stated that the company’s prepaid ARPU is likely to increase by the third quarter of this financial year. This was shared at the post-earnings investors call in October. He went on to say that this might cut the company’s selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses.
With the three monthly recharge plans of Rs 35, Rs 65, Rs 95 and the higher value recharge at Rs 145 and Rs 245, Vodafone Idea will have a total of five plans only. As per the reports, the simplified tariff options will make it more convenient for the customers to choose a plan.