The 16 lakh-plus BSNL cellphones in Calcutta went on the blink for five hours from Tuesday morning because of a glitch at the Chittaranjan exchange.
Incoming and outgoing calls and text messages were barred on all prepaid and postpaid connections under Calcutta Telephones till services were restored in the afternoon.
“The power supply to the home location register at the Chittaranjan telephone exchange was disrupted, snapping the cellphone connections of over 16 lakh customers,” said a BSNL official.
The home location register stores the customer profiles and provides their location updates. Cellphone services cannot be provided without access to the register.
The signal bars disappeared on the BSNL cellphone screens around 8.45am. Service resumed around 1.45pm.
Those who did not switch off and switch on their phone or search for network manually after 1.45pm remained cut off even longer.
“My connection was restored around 3pm after I tried to select the network manually on my cellphone. I immediately told my colleagues to do the same,” said a subscriber.
The snag meant an anxious wait for many. “I was expecting a call confirming my ticket to Coimbatore, where I’ll be joining Cognizant Technology Solutions. But I was not able to receive any call in the morning,” said 21-year-old Souvik Basu.
According to BSNL sources, the cause of the problem was not diagnosed even three hours after the cellphones, including those of BSNL employees, had stopped working.
“Why didn’t they have power back-up? Our cellphones are vital to our work and the service providers should be more careful,” said a doctor who did not want to be named.
Many BSNL subscribers are unhappy about repeated service failures.
Landline and broadband connections have not been restored to many houses and businesses affected by the July 7 fire at the Circus telephone exchange.
BSNL had promised to restore the 64,500 landlines and 1,600 leased lines affected within seven days but could not repair even 20 per cent of the connections in three weeks.
“My landline did not work for over a week after the fire. Today, my cellphone connection was down for over five hours. I am thinking of shifting to another service provider,” said a 30-year-old resident of Park Circus.