Telcos urge DoT to allow resuming data services for prepaid users in J&K


21 Jun 2013
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Telecom operators have requested the telecom department ( DoT ) to permit resumption of data services on prepaid connections in the Kashmir valley.

Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India ( COAI), in a letter to home secretary Rajiv Mehreshi on January 27 pointed out that telcos have invested hundreds of crores in buying spectrum and rolling out services in the past few years.

“However, these investments have been severely impacted due to restriction of data usage for prepaid services,” the letter explained. Prepaid customers typically account for over 90% of telcos’ subscriber base.

The industry organization, which represents
GSM telcos including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio Infocomm, said since the prepaid customers undergo the same subscriber verification standards as the postpaid customers, there wasn’t a specific reason as to why there should be segregation in permitting one set of users to access mobile data services and bar another.

“In terms of national security and traceability of customers, there should not be any difference between a verified customer, whether a prepaid customer doing repeat recharges for data or a postpaid customer,” Mathews has said.

The COAI has further pointed out that the current scheme of affairs in segregating the two sets of subscribers is also creating market distortions, since with the advent of new technology, voice services are also being offered over data. Hence, no distinction is being made between prepaid and postpaid customers by some operators at the time of acquiring the same.

“Hence the operators are allowed to sell their services and also the prepaid customers are being allowed to avail of the data services,” the letter said, explaining the anomaly in the current restrictions.

Telcos have further pointed out that in the J&K circle, prepaid services are reviewed every two years and an extension is provided to telecom service providers (TSPs) to continue their services. “Despite this condition, the TSPs have been spending significant amounts to buy additional spectrum for J&K to provide the benefits of connectivity to the citizens in J&K at par with citizens across the country,” the COAI letter said.

In July last year, both voice and data services of private telecom operators were blocked in the valley, owing to deterioration in the law and order situation. Later, voice services for the postpaid customers were resumed from July 26 for all the telcos.

In November, the government permitted data services for postpaid customers and in December voice services of prepaid customers were also resumed. However, prepaid customers of private telcos still cannot avail data services.

J&K: telcos urge dot to allow resuming data services for prepaid users in j&k, Telecom News, ET Telecom
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