After the merger deal between Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) in October 2017, TTSL decided to discontinue their operations. On 10th June 2019, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) directed TTSL to repay the losses incurred by their subscribers after the discontinuation. The timeline of the surrender notice by TTSL and the approval by the authority may have created inconvenience to the subscribers. The diktat by TRAI stated that unspent recharges by the pre-paid users have to be repaid. Furthermore, the security deposits of post-paid users will have to be refunded by the company.
Many of the pre-paid, as well as post-paid subscribers, had to port to other service providers after the immediate surrender of 16 circles by TTSL. These inconveniences caused to the subscribers has to be settled by the TRAI. TRAI must ensure the compliance of terms and conditions of a license, regulation of the telecommunication services, and protecting the interest of the consumers of the telecom sector.
Scheme of Action
TRAI received an official notice dated 31st October 2018 regarding the surrender of administratively allocated spectrums. These allocations held by various circles in 800 Mhz were discontinued immediate effect. The same was informed to the department of telecom (DoT) on 22nd October 2018. Furthermore, the surrenders included 3.75 Mhz in Delhi sector and 2.50 Mhz in 15 licensed service areas namely Karnataka, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh among others.
Along with the surrender of the administratively allocated spectrum in 800 Mhz, the company has also stopped code-division multiple access (CDMA) technologies. The CDMA discontinuation was in the areas namely West Bengal, Gujarat, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, etc.
On 4th December 2018, TRAI sought clarifications on surrender of licenses. Furthermore, TRAI directed TTSL to give a list of the number of pre-paid and post-paid subscribers. TTSL submitted the reply with the prescribed information on 14th December 2018. Along with this, clarifications on some of the circles were not surrendered and CDMA was working in those areas. These areas included Delhi, Maharashtra, Haryana, and Andhra Pradesh.
On 18th February 2019, DoT accepted TTSL’s request of the surrender of the allocated spectrums. They also sought confirmation on the dismantling of equipment and non-utilization of frequency.
TTSL has to repay with cheques issued to the pre-paid subscribers if their unspent amount is more than Rs.10. TTSL has to submit a compliance report by 20th August 2019 including the numbers of subscribers to whom the refund of the down payment has successfully deposited. Also, the report should include the details of subscribers who haven’t claimed the deposits. Furthermore, TTSL also has to submit a password protected list of pre-paid customers who have ported to other services. This porting should be between 27th December 2017 and 28th February 2019.
One of the criteria of the merger with Bharti Airtel stated the company will have to pay some liabilities of TTSL, so will this create another major expense for Airtel?