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BSNL, Vodafone, Jio and Airtel announce extra talktime, longer validity in light of COVID-19 outbreak

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In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown, telecom players are extending validity for consumers who are unable to pay for recharges.

The four major telecom players in India, Airtel, BSNL, Jio and Vodafone, have announced the extension of prepaid validity along with extra talktime, aimed at low-income consumers. The measures comes as India faces a 21-day lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic, which has also caused a sharp economic crisis for the migrant labour force in the country. In such times, mobile phones are one of way of connecting and the companies are extending benefits for the people who will need it the most. Here's a quick look at what each player has announced.

BSNL gives Rs 10 talktime, extends validity till April 20

BSNL will extend the validity of its mobile subscribers who are unable to recharge till April 20. Anyone who ran out of validity on their recharges on March 22, 2020 and was unable to get a recharge will be eligible for the extension. This is being done free of cost and it will ensure that incoming calls continue. BSNL is also giving free talk time of Rs 10 to all such subscribers, who reach zero balance during the lockdown period.

Read more: COVID-19 lockdown: Vodafone, Jio offer double data, free internet to help you work from home

"BSNL firmly stands with its subscribers during this crisis period and we request the subscribers to "Go Digital" for recharging their accounts. Several options available for recharge include My BSNL mobile app, BSNL website and other popular wallet services," Praveen Kumar Purwar, CMD, BSNL said in a statement.

Vodafone to provide unrestricted incoming service till April 17 and Rs 10 talktime credit

Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) also announced some measures, and these are aimed at feature phone users, so they can stay in touch with their families by making calls or sending SMS.

First, Vodafone-Idea is extending the validity of its prepaid plans, which are availed by low income customers using feature phones. Their plans will be valid till April 17, 2020. They will continue to receive incoming calls, even if the validity of their plan expired earlier. Further, the company is adding a  talk time credit of Rs 10 in the account of nearly 100 million feature phone using customers.

Read more: Airtel offers extra talktime to millions of customers, extends prepaid plan validity

"Extending plan validity and crediting talk time will particularly benefit migrant workers and daily wage earners, whose lives and livelihoods have been most unsettled due to the precautionary lockdown. Our network teams are already operating 24X7 to ensure seamless connectivity," Avneesh Khosla, Marketing Director, Vodafone Idea said in a statement.

Airtel extends validity, adds Rs 10 credit

Airtel has announced that it will extend the prepaid pack validity for over 80 million under privileged customers till April 17 and like other networks, these users will continue to get incoming calls even if their prepaid pack has expired. The company will also add Rs 10 talktime in the prepaid accounts of all these 80 million customers. The benefits will be available to users in the next 48 hours.

"In this difficult hour of fighting off the threat of Covid-19, Airtel is committed to ensuring that all people remain connected without any disruptions. And for this objective, it is critical to take care of the under-privileged daily wage earners of our country, whose lives have been disrupted due to the lock-down,” Shashwat Sharma, Chief Marketing Officer, Bharti Airtel said.

JioPhone users to get free minutes and SMS

Reliance Jio has announced offers for its JioPhone users, given this is a feature phone with 4G capability.  The company will give JioPhone users 100 minutes of calls and 100 SMS free, anywhere in the country, till April 17, 2020. All JioPhone users will continue to receive incoming calls post validity.