Uninor, MTS blame Airtel, RCom of poaching users


12 Jan 2012
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Uninor, MTS blame Airtel, RCom of poaching users


Incumbent operators like Vodafone, Airtel and RCom have upped the ante in an attempt to poach subscribers from operators whose licences were scrapped by the Supreme Court on Thursday. Uninor and MTS, two of the biggest operators to have been impacted by the apex court's order, seem to be the targets considering that, together, they boast of about 50 million subscribers.

These two operators told TOI that some incumbents were sending out SMSes to lure their subscribers onto their networks. Uninor, a joint venture between Norway's Telenor and Indian real estate player Unitech, said it had already approached the GSM industry body-COAI. The exit of new players from the markwill most likely give better pricing power to the older players, resulting in tariffs going up. It will also mean the telecom ecosystem which gets business from these operators - including IT vendors, trade partners and tower companies - will feel the pinch.

On Friday, Vodafone put out ads in newspapers asking consumers to port to their network, which seemed like a well-timed marketing initiative. COAI's director general Rajan S Mathews told TOI that the association had got a complaint from the Uninor CEO requesting the body to ask operators from misrepresenting the situation.

When TOI got in touch with Vodafone, Airtel and RCom, they denied sending out specific SMSes asking subscribers to port out in the aftermath of the court's judgment. Both Airtel and RCom spokespersons said that MNP activities had been ongoing for a year but nothing specific was done to tap subscribers from affected operators. Uninor customers, retailers and even vendors are receiving SMSes, spreading rumours of discontinuation of services and are being advised to move to other networks, said a Uninor spokesperson.

"It has been brought to our attention by our customers in a few circles that they are being sent SMSes by some of the competing mobile operators and their trade partners. Should this activity continue, we plan to take this issue up with the relevant authorities," said a spokesperson at Sistema Shyam, which operates MTS.

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