India’s biggest telecom operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio are planning to seek approval from the department of telecommunication (DOT) and the home ministry to implement a new safe and secure model to offer mobile connections to new users outside retail outlets.
The companies are looking to incorporate e-KYC (electronic-know your customer) parameters, allowing users to apply for new SIM cards without going to the mobile stores to buy new connections. Besides this, the telecom companies would also need the approval to arrange for a secure and hygienic way of home delivery of SIM cards, if the lockdown is prolonged.
Vodafone-Idea spokesperson told ET that the company is “developing a fully-automated, digital customer acquisition process, allowing customers to join its network from the comfort of their homes.” The service is expected to be rolled out soon, the company confirmed. Meanwhile, Airtel and Jio have not replied to the queries.
Rajan Mathews, director-general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), an industry body that represents the three telecom giants, added that the operators know that people are looking for new connections, but cannot do so due to the lockdown. Therefore, they have joined hands to come up with a system to provide SIMs through online mediums, especially when the customers need it the most. Mathews added that this would also boost the customer adds.
As per industry estimates, the three telecom giants have collectively added around 5 Lakh new users in March 2020, noting a sharp decline from an average of 2.5 Cr to 3 Cr per month before the coronavirus pandemic started spreading in India.
The estimates also show that earlier, only one-third of the telecom recharges were made through digital mediums, but now digital payments are the sole way to recharge or pay bills. Besides this, there is no footfall in mobile stores and no mobile number portability requests as well.
While all these services provided have been hit significantly, there is one service that has noted an increase — the Internet. Imagine being stuck inside the house for 21-days or more, without the internet. It has indeed turned out to be a basic necessity so far in the country that has been actively going online.
As per government sources, mobile internet usage has grown by 10% to 12% on average since the start of lockdown on March 25. Metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai have recorded a 3% increase, while smaller telecom circles have noted a 15% increase.