Report: Maxis-owned India mobile operator Aircel in deep trouble

Reuters pic.

KUALA LUMPUR: India’s Telecom regulator has expressed serious concern over problems faced by customers of loss-making mobile operator Aircel, which is 74%-owned by Malaysia’s Maxis Communications.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has asked Aircel to furnish details regarding the “unspent balance amount” of pre-paid subscribers, who have ported out of the network, according to a report in the Times of India.

The carrier had over 80 million subscribers in December,

The report, quoting sources, said Trai had allowed subscribers to port out of the Aircel network even if they had yet to complete the mandated 90-day period with the operator.

According to the report, Trai became concerned after Aircel informed that it was undergoing “deep financial stress” and had shut down operations in six circles – Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (West) – with effect from Jan 31.

Trai said Aircel’s services had been disrupted in other states too. According to the report, Aircel is considering filing for bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, The Economic Times reported that Aircel was racing to work out intra-circle roaming pacts with other telcos to keep its network running to allow its users to port out to other operators if they wished to.

This follows the decision of tower operator GTL Infrastructure to disconnect about a third of the carrier’s telecom sites in several circles.

The Economic Times reported that in a letter to Trai, the carrier, had requested the regulator to issue directions to all carriers and mobile number portability providers to allot additional porting codes in circles where Aircel’s subscriber base was over 1 million.

Trai, on Tuesday,ordered that this be done.

According to the report, Aircel’s letter and Trai’s directive indicated the carrier had run out of options to resolve the problems it faces.