Info-tech

Etisalat DB, Stel told to restart services in 3 days

Thomas K Thomas New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on April 11, 2012

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has ordered Etisalat DB and Stel to restart mobile services within three days.

The two companies had shut services after the Supreme Court cancelled in February all 2G licences issued after January 2008.

The telecom regulator has held the action of shutting down services by these firms as illegal and told the operators to continue services until the Government actually cancels their licences.

The TRAI order deals another blow to the new 2G players already reeling under the apex court's decision. They termed the regulator's order as illegal as they are only complying with the Supreme Court's order.

“On the one hand we have been told by the Supreme Court that our licences are being cancelled and on the other the regulator wants us to continue services. We are caught in between,” said a Mumbai-based operator.

The operators said they had shut down services only after giving enough notice to subscribers.

“We had extensively advertised and also directly communicated with subscribers to move to other operators' networks through the Mobile Number Portability facility. Now we don't have any subscribers on our network. So what purpose will it serve to restart the network,” said another player.

But TRAI officials said the licence conditions clearly stipulate that it is the operator's responsibility to maintain the quality of service even during the period when the notice for surrender/termination of licence is pending. The telecom regulator, in its notice to the two companies, added that under the licence conditions, operators are required to give a notice of 60 days before surrendering or closing operations.

“Etisalat DB had sent a communication on March 16 to TRAI informing that it will close services on March 31. The Supreme Court, while quashing the licences in February, had said that the order will become operational after four months,” said a TRAI official adding that networks will have to be kept operational till June 2 when the four-month period ends.

Barring Uninor and Sistema Shyam, most of the other new players are in the process of closing shop. Loop Telecom recently announced it was downing shutters. Before shutting operations, STel had 3.4 million users, Etisalat DB 1.7 million and Loop Telecom about 6,000. TRAI officials said that similar orders would be issued to all other players that have shut services without giving adequate notice.

To look into notice

One of the players said, “Our legal team will take a look at the TRAI notice and reply suitably.”, .

The Supreme Court had cancelled 122 licences on grounds that they had acquired the permits illegally. The affected players had also filed a review petition so as to keep their prospects alive. But this was also rejected by the apex court. Further, vendors and suppliers have slapped suits on some of these mobile companies claiming dues for services and equipment delivered.

>tkt@thehindu.co.in

Published on April 11, 2012
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