Telcos Offer Free Calls, Mobile Data to Subscribers

Chennai has been hit by one of the worst rains in several years causing floods and disrupting normal life. The country’s telecom providers, Airtel, Vodafone, BSNL, Reliance Communications, and Aircel, are now aiding subscribers in the city with several initiatives.

(Also see: Here Are Some Startups Helping Out With Chennai Floods)

Airtel subscribers in Chennai will get auto approval for ‘talk time’ credit up to Rs. 30 (the talk time offer is only for Airtel prepaid subscribers). The company will also provide credit of 10 minutes for Airtel-to-Airtel calls for prepaid customers with a validity of two days. Free credit of 50MB mobile data for Airtel prepaid customers with a validity of two days is also being offered.

For Airtel postpaid and fixed-line subscribers, the company is extending time to make payments whose bills are due to be paid immediately.

“The uninterrupted rains have also resulted in excessive water logging and disruption of essential services in Chennai, thus causing power failures and impacting our services in some regions. We at Airtel are relentlessly working with the local authorities to enable smooth mobile communication for Airtel customers across the city,” said the company in a press statement.

As for Vodafone, the company in an emailed statement said, “The incessant rains, unprecedented floods and power outages in Chennai have resulted in disruption of some of our services. While voice services were intermittent, data services were impacted. Significant proportion of these have now been restored in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The situation in Chennai remains challenging, the teams on ground are working ceaselessly with local authorities to address it on a war footing. We will continue to post updates periodically.”

The statement continued, “To enable Chennai customers to remain connected in this precarious time, Vodafone is offering pre-approved ‘chhota credit’ of Rs.10 to all pre-paid customers and a credit of 10 minutes for Vodafone to Vodafone calling.”

“In addition, free 100MB mobile data is being offered to all customers. The validity of the talk time credit and free data is two days. For postpaid customers whose bills are due for payment immediately, the time to make the payment is being extended,” the statement added.

State-run BSNL said it will allow free local and STD calls to other BSNL mobile phone users as well as 100 MB data for seven days for its prepaid users. “We have made calls free for pre-paid users in Chennai so that they dont have barrier in their mind of recharging their account in this distress situation. Priority is to enable them stay connected in this situation,” BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava said.

BSNL estimates that the free call services may not cost it more than Rs. 25 crores. A rental rebate of seven days and extension of billing cycle by 15 days, it said in a statement.

Similarly, Reliance Communications is offering 10 minutes of all-India free calling and 50MB of data free.

Aircel will offer free 10 minutes Aircel to Aircel calls across India to all its Chennai customers for the next three days. Apart from credit of Rs 30, the operator will also provide 10 Free all India SMS and 100MB 2G/3G free data valid for 3 days.

Airtel is not the only firm that has extended an helping hand for people in Chennai as there are a handful of startups and companies offering people help. Paytm is offering Rs. 30 worth of free talk-time to anyone who would like to remain connected. Practo has a spreadsheet with phone numbers of verified doctors and hospitals available for help in an online spreadsheet. Zomato has launched a scheme where they will provide meals for flood relief victims, and is offering to buy one meal from their end for every one purchased on the website.