In a relief to consumers, the telecom regulator has announced that effective March 22 inactive mobile connections of pre-paid customers cannot be shut down if they have a balance of Rs. 20 and the time period for considering ‘inactive’ has been set at 90 days.
The new regulation, however, allows telecom operators to deactivate pre-paid mobile number that have been not in use for a period of 90 days and has a balance of less than Rs. 20.
As per amendment made in Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) Telecom Consumer Protection regulation, “No service provider shall deactivate the cellular mobile telephone connection of a pre-paid consumer for non-usage if an amount exceeding twenty rupees…is available in the account of such consumer.”
On deactivation of inactive numbers, the regulation said “No cellular mobile telephone connection of a prepaid consumer is deactivated for non-usage, for a minimum period of ninety days or such longer period.”
The regulations has been announced following Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s observation that around 20 crore pre-paid numbers were deactivated that were lying without use for period of 30 days and an average balance of Rs. 6.
Under new regulation, telecom operators will be allowed to deduct an amount, not exceeding Rs. 20, every month based from balance amount in inactive mobile number till the number is not deactivated and the balance falls below Rs. 20.
As per amended regulations, telecom operator will have to provide facility to pre-paid to reactivate numbers by paying reasonable amount.
“A consumer whose connection is deactivated shall be given a grace period of 15 days within which he can reactivate the same number,” TRAI added.
In case of post-paid customer, the new regulation says that telecom operator will have to provide safe custody scheme to the subscriber under which he/she can be charged an amount not exceeding Rs. 150 for three months to retain the inactive number.
The new regulation also says that telecom operators should not charge monthly rental during from customers who opt for safe custody scheme. TRAI has barred telecom operators from deactivating mobile number of those post-paid customers who have paid advance rent for certain period.