Google has restricted access to the apps of international eSIM providers Airalo and Holafly for users in India for not complying with existing telecom policies in the country, according to a report. The blocking of the apps, that provide access to SIM cards that provide access to calling and data while traveling to various countries, was reportedly done in compliance with directions issued by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to both Google and Apple. The latter is yet to block downloads of both apps in the country.
A Moneycontrol report citing unnamed sources states that Google has restricted downloads of Airalo and Holafly for users in India via the Google Play store, as both apps did not have the required No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the DoT to sell or rent international roaming SIM cards to users in the country. The DoT has reportedly directed Google and Apple to block downloads of the apps in India, as they lacked the requisite approvals to operate in the country.
According to the DoT’s revised policy for the issue or renewal of NOCs for sale and rent of international roaming SIM cards or global calling cards for foreign operations in India that went into effect in January 2022, foreign operators must receive a NOC from the DoT in order to sell or rent international roaming SIM cards to customers in India. As per data available on the DoT’s website, 22 providers were granted an NOC as of September 30, 2023.
In order to receive an NOC from the DoT, providers must be registered as an Indian company and provide usage of the international cards outside India. They must also collect a copy of a user’s passport with the visa, proof of identity, and proof of address. They must also provide security agencies with a detailed monthly report complete with details of the customers who have been provided with SIM cards, as per the policy.
Gadgets 360 staff members were unable to download both Airalo and Holafly on an Android smartphone via the Google Play store, but the apps were still accessible via the App Store on iOS. A government source told Moneycontrol that discussions were ongoing with the iPhone maker in order to restrict access to both apps on the company’s smartphones in the country, which means the apps could be blocked at a later stage. Gadgets 360 has reached out to Google, Apple, and the DoT for comment and will update this article with their responses.
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