Nearly 10 lakh former Aircel users have moved to Vodafone in Tamil Nadu in past weeks, reports TelecomTalk. Vodafone India’s business head, S Murali told the publication that the telco holds 27% subscriber market share and 23% revenue market share in Tamil Nadu.
This comes on the back of nearly 1.28 lakh Aircel customers opting to move to BSNL in Tamil Nadu over five days. Aircel was also reportedly in “an advanced stage of negotiations with BSNL for an intra-circle roaming arrangement”.
While Aircel’s services are not officially closed in Tamil Nadu, its tower infrastructure provider GTL infra has turned off one-third of their total sites. This is likely to be the cause for increasing call drops and network problems, leading to higher port outs.
Aircel recently filed for bankruptcy and is currently in the process of complying with directions of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to ensure all customers can port or switch their existing numbers to other telecom service providers, if they choose to. The telco had close to 85 million total connections, as of December 2017, of which about 52 million were active connections.
In January, the financially stressed company had shut services in six circles: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh (West). While it is unclear when the company will withdraw its services completely, the TRAI has directed to comply with its order by April 25.
Aircel is only the latest causality in the troubled telecom sector. Both big and small players have become cash-strapped after the entry of Jio in 2016. To bring some relief to telcos, the government recently approved a package with increased spectrum holding limit and more time to pay spectrum dues. This move hopes to ease consolidation and allow trading of bands.