After RCom, now 5 lakh Aircel customers stranded without network
In a strange development, mobile telecom service provider, Aircel’s network has suddenly deteriorated to the extent of prompting speculation about the company continuing its services or closing down.
After Reliance Communication (RCom) ended its services in November 2017, a similar situation has arisen in Guwahati. 5 lakh Aircel customers in Guwahati have suddenly stopped getting Aircel network signals since the last few days.
An official of the company said, “Due to some technical issues, the customers are facing congestion and the technical team is trying to solve the issue.”
The official said that the customers facing such issues can log on to BSNL as through intra circle roaming (ICR) arrangements with BSNL, Aircel customers can use the 2G network for emergencies till the Aircel network returns to normalcy.
Customers however are not being able to use the network even after logging on to BSNL.
Many customers are switching to different numbers but some complained that they were unable to use the mobile number porting facility due to network issues.
For mobile number porting (a process of shifting to a different operator keeping the same mobile number), customers need to provide a unique porting code (UPC) which can be obtained after messaging PORT (space) mobile number to 1900. But as there is no network on the phones, customers are not being able to send the message.
An Airtel outlet manager said that many Aircel customers do not have network on their phones and are not being able to receive the UPC. So Airtel is manually requesting for the codes taking the help of the SIM card serial numbers. It takes around 15 days to receive the code.
The customers are furthered irked with the company as they do not know whether the company will resolve the network issue or end its services. Even the customer service centre is not responding to the calls made by customers.
There are 40 lakh Aircel customers in Assam and around 65 lakh customers in the entire northeast who are all facing the same problem.
Will Aircel end its services?
In a scenario when the senior officials of Aircel are not commenting on the issue, experts in the industry feel that the company will end its services by March.
A telecom industry source said, “Aircel is set to end its services as many of its employees are already hunting for new jobs,” adding that the company is in debt of around Rs 15,000 crores.
The network of Aircel is barred because the vendors have disconnected the services due to non-payment of dues.
A top official of Aircel has also sent an email to its employees asking them to be prepared for tougher times.
Last year, Aircel and Reliance Communications had planned to join hands but the deal did not materialise, an industry expert said.
The company is considering filing for bankruptcy with the National Company Law Tribunal, media reports said.
The employees however have refuted all the rumours of closure saying that they are getting their salaries on time and hence they are still working.
“It is just that the network has been disrupted for a few days due to technical issues which would be resolved soon,” said an employee working with Aircel for the last 10 years, adding that they have not been served with any notice about the closure of the company.