Minister of State for Communications and IT, Milind Deora has ascertained in a statement that the lifetime mobile tariff plans offered by telecom operators are valid till the operator is permitted to offer such service under the license. In his written reply to the Lok Sabha, Deora added, “The service providers have been prescribing certain condition of minimum recharge/usage as part of the lifetime validity plans. The subscribers in such plans are entitled to enjoy incoming facility subject to fulfilment of the conditions specified in the tariff plans.”
Deora's aforementioned statement came as a response to whether most mobile service providers have issued and are issuing mobile connections under lifetime free incoming call scheme, while their license is valid only for a specific time duration. He added, “…any tariff plan presented, marketed…as having liftime or unlimited validity in lieu of an upfront payment shall continue to be available to the subscriber for the duration of the period prescribed in the plan.” The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India reportedly issued regulatory guidelines to protect the interests of lifetime plan consumers.
Lifetime plans for as long as operators permitted (Image credit: Getty Images)
Interestingly, Deora added that service providers cannot change tariffs, adding a disadvantage to consumers over the course of the validity period as mentioned in the plan.
Also, as per guidelines that were made effective only recently, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked service providers to not provide mobile connections exceeding 3 months to foreign tourists in the country. The guidelines read, “Any mobile connection issued to a foreigner should not have a validity beyond the validity of the visa. In case of foreign tourist, the validity of connection should not be beyond the visa period and also not exceed three months at a time even if the validity of the visa is beyond three months.”
The guidelines further instruct service providers that while issuing a SIM card to a foreign tourist, the latter's passport with a valid visa ought to be considered as the proof. This move by the government, evaluated by the Union Home Ministry, is in an attempt to curb the misuse of SIM cards issued to these foreign nationals by locals, after the former depart from the country.
As per recent reports, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is also planning to approach the Commerce and Industry Ministry on the issue of banning the import of phones with fake IMEI numbers.
An IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity number is a unique 15-digit code that is assigned to a handset and is unique to GSM, WCDMA and iDEN mobile phones as well as some satellite phones. To view the IMEI number of a handset, dial *#06#. It works on most keypads. The IMEI number flashes on the operator's network when a call is made and allows authorities to track users.
Of late, instances of IMEI cloning have been on the rise. Although cloning of IMEI numbers is not commonplace yet in the case of CDMA handsets, instances of cloning in the case of GSM handsets are aplenty. Mobile handsets with cloned IMEI numbers cannot be tracked, making them a deterrent to national security.