Result of rigorous customer verification process

Kripa Raman

Proof is problem

Private agencies

check whether the applicant is a resident at the address provided.

For the large

floating population of semi-skilled and unskilled people, documentation is a genuine problem.

Mumbai, Aug 7

The dramatic month-on-month customer growths reported by wireless telephony operators may become difficult to maintain in the months ahead, going by the results that rigorous customer verification processes are yielding.

Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd which belongs to a group that says it will leave no stone unturned and spare no expenses in the matter of customer verification, has disconnected 32,000 customers between April 23 and now, citing dissatisfactory verification details.

This number is large, considering (for rough comparison's sake) that the company added 1,20,768 customers between April end and June end, roughly the time span during which these 32,000 disconnections were made. The numbers disconnected are more than 26 per cent of the numbers added.

"If TTML has disconnected this many customers, we hardly have any reason to believe that the proportion will be any different for the other operators," said a telecom analyst.

The disconnections pertain to not just new applicants during the period, but also older pre-paid users who had subscribed from 2004 onwards, said a spokesperson for the company.

The company has employed four private agencies and in addition the Government-run India Post to verify the authenticity of its customers.

"We started to comb our entire market in batches from April 23 following the DoT notice on verification to all operators," said the spokesperson.

Once the customer submits his documents at the retail end, there is a physical verification of the customer to find out whether the details provided are correct. One of the four private agencies checks whether the applicant is a resident at the address provided.

In some localities, a letter is sent through the Indian postal service and its receipt reported to determine authenticity of the applicant.

Related Stories:
DoT issues directives on mobile subscriber verification
Cell users may have to pay for verification

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 8, 2006)
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