STel, Etisalat told to restore services till licence expires


New Delhi : The telecom regulator Wednesday directed STel and Etisalat to resume their services in full till their licences are actually cancelled following a Supreme Court order.

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“Restore all network connectivity, ensure continuity of service to its subscribers and maintain the quality of service till its licence is operational,” TRAI said in a separate directives after it was reported that the two operators have shut shop before the June 2 timeline.

TRAI also asked the firms to file compliance reports within three days.

According to a clause of the Unified Access Service Licence, the licencee shall ensure continuity of services to its customers unless the licence is terminated or suspended by the licensor for any reason.

The licencee is also supposed to give a notice of at least 60 days before surrendering its licence and inform its customers about this 30 days in advance.

The Supreme Court, in a Feb 2 order, had cancelled 122 licences, badly affecting firms such as STel, Etisalat, Uninor and Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL). The apex court also said the direction “shall become operative after four months”.

However, STel, which had acquired licences to operate in six circles – Orissa, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, northeast, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir – and has 3.4 million customers, has already shut down its networks in all the circles.

“We have shut down our networks in all the circles and are helping our customers port to other networks through mobile number portability (MNP),” a STel executive told IANS.

The firm, a joint venture between Batelco and Sky City Foundation, owned by former Aircel promoter and serial entrepreneur C. Sivasankaran, has said it is in the process of having final settlement with associated firms.

Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat also said it had shut down its India operations effective March 31. The company too had told its over 1.6 million customers to shift to other telecom operators through MNP. It had operations in 15 circles.

The company had announced Feb 22 its plans of shutting down the India network and launched legal proceedings against its Indian joint venture partners, Swan Telecom and Dynamix Balwas (DB) Group, for fraud and misrepresentation.

Another player, Loop Telecom, has also said it will cease its operations in India with effect from June 1 or earlier on successful port-out of all its subscribers.