Nepal Telecom ( NT ) has decided to increase the validity period of the balance held by pre-paid mobile users in response to criticism from customers and the Nepal Telecommunications Authority ( NT A).

The telecom giant said the validity period for recharging a mobile phone by Rs 100 would be raised to two months from the current 21 days. The move will especially benefit low spending customers. They have been forced to extend the validity period by topping off their phones to keep them active even though they have an unused balance.

A meeting of NT board held last week decided to increase the validity period of the balance. The NT A has long been badgering the state-owned company to increase the validity period. The short lifespan of a recharge has been inconvenient for cell phone owners who maintain a small balance and use their sets mostly to receive calls.

“We will be lengthening the validity period keeping in mind its importance for customers who spend little on telecom service,” said a NT board member. He added that the validity periods were being doubled for all recharge plans.

Presently, NT provides a validity period of two months, six months and one year for recharging the phone by Rs 200, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 respectively. Under the proposed scheme, the validity period will be raised to five months, one year and two years respectively.

Meanwhile, NT A officials said that they had been asking NT to increase the validity period acting on constant complaints from customers. “It is good that NT is extending the balance expiry date. We have been urging the company to do this for the last one and half years,” said Arjun Ghimire, deputy director of the NT A’s Consumer and Economic Analysis Section. He added that Ncell had been providing a validity period of six months for recharging the balance by Rs 100.

NT is in final stages of increasing the validity period which is expected to retain existing customers and attract new users. “We will make the new validity provision public soon,” said Babu Kaji Shakya, deputy managing director of NT ’s Business and Change Management. Over 95 percent of NT ’s GSM mobile users use the pre-paid service. Its subscriber base amounted to 7.12 million as of mid-March 2013. -Ekantipur


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