India’s cellcos have intensified efforts to restore and maintain mobile services in the flood-damaged areas of Jammu and Kashmir and several are offering customers free calls or credit to assist with aid and recovery in the region, the Economic Times reports. Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular are working with state-backed operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), the army and the air force to restore services in the area, after the recent flooding knocked out essential infrastructure in the Kashmir valley. The combined effort has reconnected parts of Srinagar and several key towns, including Anantnag, Qazigund, Mattan, Avantipura and Ashumukam and teams from all of the involved parties are working to ensure continuity of services.
Meanwhile, to aid with the relief effort Aircel is providing its customers with free calls for the next two days (10 and 11 September), Idea is auto-crediting INR12 (USD0.2) into the accounts of customers with low balance to ensure that users can make emergency calls whilst a Vodafone spokesperson added that: ‘additional talk-time credit was being provided to all customers to ensure low balance doesn’t prevent them [from] connecting with their near and dear ones.’ Aircel has also set up mobile charging units and calling booths to offer free calls to stranded flood victims.
Satellite provider Hughes Communications India has also been hit by the floods, impacting 39% of its KU band very small aperture terminal (VSAT) sites and 44% of its XC band sites.