The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has hauled up Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), Reliance Jio and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) for selectively extending the validity of prepaid users amid the COVID-19 crisis led lockdown.

Due to this, many 2G prepaid users across the country still remained without connectivity and are unable to recharge their phones.

In separate letters to the operators, dated April 7, 2020, TRAI has directed Airtel, Jio, VIL and MTNL, to expedite corrective measures for ensuing uninterrupted services to all prepaid users during the lockdown. To this end, the regulator has also sought an immediate compliance report from them.

As per TRAI, Airtel and VIL had followed a selective approach in giving relaxation to subscribers, in extending the validity and giving a credit of Rs 10 to each subscriber, and as a result all the 2G subscribers were not covered and are facing hardships in absence of any recharge facilities.

In its letter to Jio, TRAI said that the relief of crediting 100 minutes of calls and text messages offered by the telco is being made only to subscribers whose validity has expired, while those who have reached a zero balance but have not yet reached the validity expiry, would be denied the relief, thereby limiting their ability to make of-net calls and send text messages during the lockdown.

Further, to MTNL, TRAI has pointed out that while the telco has extended the validity of all its prepaid users during the lockdown, allowing them to receive incoming calls, no provision has been made by the telco to allow them to make outgoing calls.