Telcos Suggest That Inactive Customers Should Pay To Keep Their Numbers Alive

Mobile service operators have come up with a solution to get dormant numbers to generate revenue. India’s ten digit mobile numbering system is on the verge of collapse owing to the rapid adoption of the service. This has put sever strain on the infrastructure & telecom companies are jostling to manage thaeir existing customers; active or otherwise.

Instead of revising the numbering system to 11 digits as envisaged earlier, the telecom companies want the dormant users to be eradicated from the system. Hence top telecom service providers including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices – who were responding to a consultation paper on ‘Deactivation of Connections Due to Non-Usage’ – suggested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to start charging a ‘Redundancy Fee’ ranging from Rs. 300-600 per connection that stays inactive beyond the stipulated allowable period said RCom to TRAI, “By paying a lump sum fee, any wireless subscriber should be able to retain their mobile connections even after long continuous periods of non-usage”.

This facility, being mooted as ‘Safe Custody’ would legally allow pre-paid customers to keep their inactive numbers for a much longer duration without the fear of being abruptly disconnected. Quite recently we have witnessed mass shut-downs of dormant numbers. Touted as clean-up drive, India’s famous 1 Billion Mobile subscriber Milestone retreated its steps. Though loosing customers is not usually a good sign, telcos assure us that this bring operational efficiency.

While there is ambiguity about the method & time-frame to be employed, all service operators unanimously feel that the ‘Dormant Subscriber’ issue needs to be addressed from a commercial & technical point of view. Airtel feels Rs. 150 / 3 months or Rs. 300/ Year is good enough, they also feel the extension maybe made only for six months at a time.

After rapidly adding users, telecom companies are now ready to sacrifice subscriber-base to prevent overhauling their systems. According to TRAI about 200 Million users are inactive & about 55 Million are lying dormant for more than a year. Should such users be penalized in order to delay the 11 digit mobile numbering system?

Image Courtesy |  economicstimes

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