From special camps to mobile vans, telcos help customers from rural areas link their Aadhaar to mobile numbers

Telecom operators have asked UIDAI and DoT for more time because it is impossible for the companies to set up a system without a modified and reissued CAF.

Telecom giants in India have come up with a number of innovative ideas on how to help customers with the process of linking their Aadhaar numbers with their mobile numbers.

Image: UIDAI

Image: UIDAI

The bulk of these efforts are focused on users located in the rural areas who don’t have easy access to information and instructions about how to proceed with the mandatory linking.

According to a report by The Economic Times, Bharati Airtel is conducting special camps in rural areas to make it easier for its subscribers to link their mobile numbers with their Aadhaar numbers. Vodafone is sending out special vans to rural areas to help its customers with Idea Cellular is setting up temporary canopies in rural areas. The company also sent canopies on bikes to rural pockets across India in addition to visiting homes of the physically disabled and senior citizens to ensure that they don’t have any inconvenience in the entire process. The first reason for all this effort is to push the speed and number of people linking their Aadhaar numbers with mobile numbers for re-verification.

The central government wants telecom companies to ensure that all their subscribers across the country have linked their Aadhaar numbers and mobile numbers by 6 February 2018. This is a significant task to carry out for the companies as India has a total of about 1.18 billion mobile subscribers by the end of September according to the data posted by TRAI on 21 November 2017.

Major telecom operators in India. Image: Reuters

Major telecom operators in India. Image: Reuters

The second reason for the companies to put in so much effort and go out of their way to help their customers is to do with the Supreme Court of India's reprimand. A lot of telcos were pulled up for causing panic after they sent out messages stating that accounts will be deactivated if users don’t link them with their Aadhaar numbers. A Constitution bench is yet to decide the validity of the 12 digit ‘Unique’ Identification number. Another reason which is part of the second reason is the fact that customers have increasingly grown reluctant to the idea of visiting the retail outlets of telcos as it is deemed inconvenient.

Camps, temporary canopies, and special vans are in addition to the three systems of re-validation that Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has allowed. The first one is with the help of a one-time passcode (OTP) as a text message, second as an interactive voice response system and the third is with the help of mobile apps from telecom operators. UIDAI has set 30 November 2017 as the deadline for the companies to implement OTP for re-verification.

Telecom operators have asked UIDAI and DoT for more time because it is impossible for the companies to set up the system without a modified and reissued customer acquisition form (CAF). The interesting thing to note here, as reported by the report is that DoT is the authority that has to issue the modified CAF and after it issues the CAF, telecom companies will need ‘at least 4-6 weeks’ to set up the OTP-based re-verification system.

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