‘Data charge should not be taken from customers to access the required website’

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Devina Sengupta, Mumbai

Mobile phone operators wrote letters to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the sector regulator to allow customers to access websites such as government services, ecommerce and digital payment platforms like Bheem App, without paying for data during the lockdown period. Has requested. According to the senior executives of the sector, letters were written to DoT and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Saturday. As long as the restrictions have been imposed, customers should not be charged for accessing government or banking services or essential services.

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Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Director General Rajan Mathews confirmed the sending of the letter. However, he did not provide any information about the issues mentioned in the letter. COAI represents private telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio Infocomm.

In 2016, TRAI prohibited different pricing for data services. However, it excluded services offered through closed electronic communication networks (CECNs) or intranets.

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Services through the intranet are generally limited to members of the organization that owns it. Apart from them, only those people whom they have authorized to access it, can use it. Officials said that the government may take a decision this week on the request of the telecom companies. If the government accepts this proposal, then it will mainly benefit prepaid customers, especially those who run cheap tariff plans and internet on daily quota for data.

Executives said, “There should not be such situations in front of them that if they lose their daily quota, then they will not be able to access the necessary websites.” However, this move will put additional pressure on the telecom companies’ networks as these will be primarily essential sites and not popular sites.

Telecom networks are covered under essential services. Operators are already grappling with additional pressure on their networks as many states have put a lockdown and people are working from their homes due to India Inc.’s implementation of work from policy. According to the latest data released by TRAI, the monthly data usage per subscriber is 10.37 GB. Analysts believe that if people continue to work from home for long periods, there could be a 15% increase per quarter over the next two quarters.

It is worth noting that on Monday, the number of infected people of Kovid-19 crossed 400.

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