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Lifetime lock on tariff

New Delhi, March 22: The telecom regulator today announced that mobile phone service providers will not be allowed to raise tariffs on their lifetime validity schemes.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) directed mobile phone service providers not to raise even a “tariff item within a tariff plan” in the case of lifetime validity schemes where subscribers are required to make an upfront payment.

The lifetime validity schemes have been hugely popular and have helped mobile phone companies ratchet up their subscriber bases in 2005.

Trai also said all tariff schemes would have to be valid for a period of six months ' with the proviso that there cannot be any tariff hike during this period.

The regulator said the subscriber would be free to opt for any other tariff plan even during the six-month period.

“All requests for a change of plan shall be accepted and implemented immediately or from the start of the next billing cycle,” it said

The telecom regulator appended a four-page explanatory memorandum to state why it had taken a course of action that the cellphone companies are clearly not pleased about.

“Because of the fact that operators have... introduced tariff plans with specified longer period of validity, including lifetime validity/unlimited validity, it has become necessary to protect the interests of consumers against any hike in the tariff items during the period of validity of such plans,” the regulator said.

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