According to senior executives in the sector, letters were sent to the DoT and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Saturday.
“Telcos do not want customers getting charged for accessing necessary sites, including government ones or banking sites until restrictions to prevent Covid-19 are lifted,” said a senior telecom executive, who did not wish to be identified.
Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents private telecom operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio Infocomm, confirmed that the letter was sent but did not share details of its contents.
In 2016, Trai barred discriminatory pricing of data services. The rules, however, provided an exception for services offered over closed electronic communication networks, or intranets. Services over an intranet are usually limited to the members of the organisation that owns it or those authorised by it.
The government is expected to take a call on the telcos’ request this week, said officials.
The executive cited earlier said that if the government accepts this proposal, it will benefit mainly prepaid customers, especially those in the lower tariff order who are monitoring their data usage on a daily basis. “They should not be left in a position where they cannot access critical websites because they have exhausted their data,” said the executive.
But the move is unlikely to spell additional pressure on a telco’s network since the sites would only be the most critical ones and not necessarily the most popular ones.
The telecom network falls under essential services and operators are already grappling with stress as many states impose lockdowns and people are isolated, with India Inc declaring work from home policies.