In a series of new directives released yesterday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has directed Tata Teleservices, Unitech Wireless and Videocon Telecommunications to inform the date of discontinuation of its services to all its subscribers in circles where the telcos lost licenses to operate due to the Supreme Court judgement earlier this year.
The TRAI has stated that these telcos should inform all new subscribers about the discontinuation of services at the time of enrollment and inform all of the existing subscribers in affected areas, either in writing or through SMS in the next 10 days. It also added that telcos should also provide a compliance report to the Authority in the next 15 days.
In a similar directive, the TRAI has also directed Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL) to inform all its subscribers about the discontinuation of service, if the telco plans to shut down its service on or before Jan 18, 2013. Earlier, in the month, SSTL had set a deadline for the Indian government to formulate a strategy to resolve the issue related to the cancellation of its 2G license in the country. The company had told MediaNama that this deadline was to ensure protection of investments of over $3.2 billion made in Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd, although it didn’t provide any specific details about its communication with the government.
The telco was also reportedly planning to initiate international arbitration proceedings against the government and seek billions of dollars worth damages, if the government failed to restore its 2G licenses before the Indo-Russian summit, expected to happen later this month on December 24. The company has 16.09 million customers as of October 2012.
Supreme Court Judgement: In February 2012, the Supreme court had revoked 122 2G licenses across 22 telecom operators, following which the affected telcos were expected to lose its licenses from September 7, 2012, which was later extended by the Supreme Court to January 18, 2013. The government also conducted an auction last month to allow telcos regain these licenses but it turned out to be a dud auction with only five participants, of which only two operators were among those whose licenses had been canceled.
Last month, Tata Teleservices stated that it will be winding up its operations in Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and the Assam regions from January 18, 2013, since it no longer has the spectrum to operate in these three circles.
In July 2012, Telenor(Uninor) had announced that it planned to scale down its operations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Orissa and prioritise its focus on nine best performing circles including Mumbai, Maharashtra & Goa, UP East, UP West, Bihar and Jharkhand, Kolkata, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. The company however secured licenses in six circles in the recently concluded 2G auction, which includes Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP East and UP West and is planning to shut down services in two circles – Kolkata and West Bengal, as indicated by a Livemint report.