If you are a prepaid subscriber with incumbent telcos viz Vodafone- Idea, and Airtel, then you might not be entitled anymore to even receive free incoming calls on your number in case you do not recharge for an extended period of time despite being on the lifetime validity plan. Now, it seems that Airtel has already started forcing prepaid subscribers to recharge for a minimum amount to keep their validity intact; on a monthly basis.
The telco is now asking prepaid subscribers (in Karnataka at least) to recharge for a minimum of INR 35 to obtain a validity of 28 days; despite subscribers already having subscribed to lifetime validity plans. Earlier, prepaid customers had to recharge for a bare minimum of INR 10 every six months to ensure that their validity were not suspended. This recharge amount now seems to have been raised to INR 35 minimum every month.
However, in case your validity is suspended on account of not having recharged regularly (monthly) despite accumulating enough balance, then you should understand that you would be required to get it activated again; like the conventional norm.
Also, in case you fail to recharge your account, incoming calls would end so as outgoing. In Airtel’s case, the company would first suspend outgoing calls; then incoming; in certain cases, the telco also stated that there would be grace period to recharge for minimum amounts to obtain validity of 28 days (or more).
In case you prefer to recharge for INR 35, to keep your validity intact, Airtel would offer talktime of INR 26 with this plan with 100MB data applicable for 28 days.
At this point in time, it is not known if Vodafone-Idea is also asking its prepaid mobile customers to recharge for minimum amounts to keep validity intact. But, rumour mills are doing the rounds about the telco informing its subscribers to recharge for at least INR 30 to obtain a 28 day validity; for those not having recharged their prepaid accounts for long (less than six months) in spite of the account having balance.
Now, it is worth noting that Reliance Jio has been aggressive in penetrating markets within India; the telco’s JioPhone has seemingly turned out to be positive. As of now, Jio has nearly 21% market share in India as per an India Ratings and Research report. This was applicable as in August 2018.
State-owned BSNL also seemingly increased its market presence (as in August 2018) to 10.3%. BSNL now is yet to announce revisions of its prepaid tariff plans; there are no details on whether the telco would resort to such a move.