The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on November 27 pulled up Bharti Airtel and Vodafone IdeaÂ over theirÂ minimum recharge plans, Mint reported.
TRAI's move comes after prepaid subscribers complained saying that the two companies sent messages asking them to mandatorily recharge their accounts to continue using their services despite holding sufficient balance.
In a letter, review by the paper, TRAI has asked operators toÂ duly inform subscribers within three days the date on which the validity of an existing plan would expire and how they can opt for available plans including minimum recharge plan using subscriber's available prepaid account balance.
"Till such time operators should not discontinue services of such customers who have balance in prepaid accounts equal to minimum recharge amount," TRAI said.
The telecom operators hope that the move would help them gear up against their rival -- RelianceÂ Jio Infocomm. Jio's entry in September 2016 with competitive prices,Â pushed other telecom operators to drop rates,Â which impacted their topline and profitability.
In a post-earnings investors call last month, Airtel's Chief Executive Officer Gopal Vittal had said the company expects prepaid ARPU to start improving by the third quarter of the current fiscal year on account of the minimum recharge plans. He also said that this could lead to a reduction in the company's selling, generalÂ and administrative (SG&A) expenses.
Vodafone Idea would now have only a total of five plans -- three monthly recharge plans of Rs 35, Rs 65 and Rs 95 along with higher value recharge of Rs 145 and Rs 245. This would simplify its tariff portfolio making it easier for users to understand, the report said.