Two lakhs Ghy customers left stranded by Reliance Communications
A messy situation has emerged in Guwahati after services were terminated for about two lakhs cell phones by Reliance Telecom (RCom).
A former RCom employee said, “There are 2 lakh users in Guwahati and 12 lakh in northeast who are stranded by RCom without any prior notice.” He added that though the employees were informed that RCom will end services in the region from November 30, the sudden signal congestion has become a cause of concern.
There are many RCom customers in the city and other regions whose cell phones have been continuously out of reach for the past several days. Sensing the trouble, there were many customers who had already switched to other service providers.
“My RCom number is with all my friends, family and professional connections, now they are not being able to contact me because I am not receiving the signals since last two weeks,” said Pranjal Borbora.
Talking about the reasons for the sudden signal congestion, a former employee of Reliance Communication told G Plus, “The mobile switching centres (MSCs) are switched off by many building owners where it is located because of non-payment of monthly rent.” He cited the example of Dr Dr NN Burman building at Pan Bazar which had become non-functional for non-payment of rent to the house owner.
MSCs are interconnectivity points with which the company provides services to the customers after borrowing spectrum space from other telecom operators through intra circle roaming (ICR) arrangement.
The licence for 2G services offered by Reliance Communications which had been operating at 900 MHz spectrum had expired on 12 December 2015 and was not renewed thereafter. The 3G spectrum is still operational in 2100 MHz bandwidth but subscribers were alleging frequent interruptions due to lack of adequate towers in the city. To remove these hitches, the company decided for ICR arrangements with operators like Vodafone and Aircel.
Reliance Communications has witnessed a steady erosion of its customer base in the region in the last few years. Earlier estimated at around 50 lakhs in the Northeast, it shrank to 12 lakh customers including only 2 lakhs in Guwahati who are now in the process of shifting to different service providers.
Changing operators a harassment: Customers
Many cell phone customers who either aged or retired employees are facing problems to shift to other service providers. Some have complained about the lengthy procedure involved in getting connected to a different network.
For shifting to a different operator keeping the same mobile number, customers need to provide a unique porting code (UPC) number which can be obtained after messaging. But since there is no network with the earlier Reliance cell phones, th customers are not being able to send the text message.
Some service providers like Airtel have pitched in with manual requests for the codes through the sim card serial number of the customers. But this process takes around 15 days to be completed.
Many Reliance customers have received the UPC from RCom but even after submitting the UPC it takes around 15 days to get connected to a different operator, because the verification of the mobile number takes around 15 days.
The post paid customers are also irked for not receiving the security money which they had paid while purchasing the connection. A former employee with RCom said that the security balance ought to be refunded to the customers within 7 days of the service getting terminated according to norms laid down by Telecom Regulatory Authority f India (TRAI).
“RCom has not yet officially declared that they are stopping the service. The customers might get the security refund once the announcement is officially declared,” he said.
Reliance sacks 350 employees in last one year
As many as 350 employees have been sacked by Reliance Communications (RCom) in the past one year so after the telecome company decided to wind up its service in the Northeast. The last batch of 40 employees was asked to leave last month.
A former employee of Reliance Communications who was sacked on 28th October 2017 said, “I was working with the company since last 20 years but I was informed on 27th that I would have to stop working with the organisation from the next day.”
He complained that employees were not even given a month’s notice, but they expect to receive the salary of one month very soon.
Many employees who were sacked were mulling approaching the court for legal remedies but they backed out fearing that their entry to other telecom companies could be barred.
Another former employee said that the telecom companies have concluded agreements with each other which helps in the verification of the past history of employees seeking new jobs. He claimed that RCom has incurred a huge debt in the Northeast and hence forced to shut down its operation.