Mobile data users will be able to keep their SIM active for one year from the day of last usage as regulator Trai on Friday permitted increase of validity for mobile data packs to 365 days, from the current up to 90 days.
Trai said the move will help boost usage by marginal consumers and also attract first-time Internet users.
“Requests were received in TRAI seeking longer validity for data-packs (that is Special Tariff Vouchers with only data benefits) primarily to address the concern of marginal consumers of wireless Internet who prefer lower denomination data packs with longer validity,” the regulator said.
The move is aimed at those who use mobile SIMs for data services rather than for making phone calls. This will also help users carry forward their unused mobile internet quota throughout the year which generally lapses at the end of every month. Also mobile number ceases to exist if a customer does not use mobile services for continuous 90 days.
Trai said that only 31.35 crore wireless subscribers used internet out of a total wireless subscriber base of 103.37 crore at the end of March, 2016.
Thus, the penetration of wireless Internet in the country was only 30 per cent as on March, 2016. While the wireless data usage grew by about 58 per cent between January-March 2015 and January-March 2016, the wireless subscriber base, which used Internet, grew by mere 16 per cent during the period.
“It seems that the existing subscribers, having discovered the benefits of Internet usage, have increased their consumption of data (Internet), but the non-connected are not getting induced to access internet,” TRAI said.
It said that the low level of literacy, low perceived utility of the internet, and non-affordability of data amongst marginal consumers were impeding the adoption of mobile internet.
The regulator felt that allowing longer validity for data packs would provide flexibility to service providers to offer innovative data products.
“The consumers, who use less of data services than average and those, who are presently not using any data services are likely to be the primary target consumers…,” it said adding that the move would allow many first-time data users to go for data services.