Bihar mobile users queue up for clarity

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  • Published 4.02.12

Patna, Feb. 3: Around 80 lakh mobile phone users of Uninor, S Tel and MTS under the Bihar-Jharkhand circle are likely to be affected by the Supreme Court judgment yesterday quashing the first-come-first-served allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008 and scrapping 122 licences awarded by then telecom minister A. Raja.

A day after the ruling, subscribers of the affected telecom companies were busy dialling customer care centres or queuing up at mobile stores and corporate offices of the operators for enquiring about the after-effects. Local representatives of the operators remained tight-lipped but assured consumers that they would face no inconvenience in the aftermath of the apex court order.

Deepak Kumar, owner of Millennium Time Center, a mobile sales and recharge store at Ashiana Nagar, could not recharge the phone numbers of Uninor subscribers coming to his shop today.

“Uninor has not given the credit balance today and thus we are not able to recharge subscribers’ mobile phones. We have also received a message from the company in the morning that talked about the effects of the judgment. It stated that agents should co-operate with the company during the four months’ time given by the Supreme Court,” said Kumar.

Sources in the Bihar-Jharkhand circle of Uninor said the regional office has not received any official communication from their headquarters on Friday. “The Bihar-Jharkhand circle has still not received any official communication from our headquarters with regard to the apex court’s judgment given on Thursday,” said a senior executive of Uninor in Patna.

He, however, refused to comment on the effects of the judgment on future operational strategies of the company in the state. Uninor has a subscriber base of 42,04,457 in the Bihar-Jharkhand circle.

Idea Cellular today made it clear that its operations in Bihar would not be affected by the judgment. “The recent Supreme Court ruling of cancelling licences impacts only those licences granted in 2008. Idea Cellular had applied for a licence in 2006 but the same for providing services in the Bihar circle was granted only in 2008. Idea Cellular’s Bihar licences have not been cancelled. Idea Cellular is a pan-India operator, with Bihar being an integral part of the Idea family and we look forward to continuing the Idea journey together,” said Bharat Joshi, a public relations executive of Idea Cellular in Patna.

Idea has a consumer base of 53,15,012 in the Bihar-Jharkhand circle.

S Tel consumers said the company had asserted that no inconvenience would be caused.

“I find S Tel tariff plans more convenient for me. The Rs 16 recharge coupon has a tariff rate of Re 0.5 per second and a Rs 17 recharge coupon has a tariff rate of 30 paise per minute. Its Internet data usage plans are also equally good. Moreover, I have checked with the company regarding the impact of the Supreme Court judgment and they said they would ensure no inconvenience is caused to the subscribers,” said Amar Kumar, a resident of Boring Road. S Tel has a subscriber base of20,59,787 in the Bihar-Jharkhand circle.

While the affected operators are busy in crisis management, those who are not impacted are said to be drawing up strategies for cashing in on the uncertainty. “Most of the new small companies which entered the telecom market are running into losses at many places across the country. Thus, many of these operators might not be able to buy spectrum at the re-auction. Moreover, the four months’ time given to the affected companies would be a boon for big players to form strategies for aggressive promotion for mobile number portability, branding and even changes in the tariff plans to expand subscriber base,” said an executive of a private telecom operator in Patna.