Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), which offers telecom services under the MTS brand, will be shutting down operations in 10 circles: Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, North East, Orissa and Punjab. The company stated on the MTS website that connections will be de-activated post March 23, 2013.
Subscribers in these circles have also been asked to exhaust their balance and other benefits before the aforementioned date. Thanks to MNP, they can retain their original numbers even as they port to another network. “SSTL takes this opportunity to thank its subscribers for their support and regrets the inconvenience caused,” the post reads.
According to the company, only 15 percent of their customers belong to these 10 circles. When contacted, a company spokesperson said, “Our total subscriber base is over 14 million* (as on 31st Jan 2013) out of which less than 15% comes from these 10 circles.”
MTS to shut services in 10 circles
But it doesn't look like the company is giving up yet. SSTL has confirmed that it intends to take part in the March 11, 2013 spectrum auctions. A company spokesperson said, “The company’s immediate focus is to draw a final blueprint for spectrum auctions starting March 11, 2013. SSTL is planning to submit its application for participation in the spectrum auctions by February 25, 2013. And hopefully, get on with the business of building an even stronger MTS brand in India.”
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that the telecom companies which failed to win fresh 2G spectrum or did not participate in the auction would have to end operations. The ruling read, “The telecom companies which have been unsuccessful in the bidding and those after the cancellation of the licences did not participate in the fresh auction are directed to cease from continuing from operation forthwith and the successful bidders will immediately start in their respective circles.”
Last December, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) asked Sistema, Telenor, Videocon and Tata Teleservices to inform their respective customers that services would be discontinued post January 18, as these mobile companies had their licenses cancelled following the auctions.
Uninor, the telecom company owned by Telenor and Unitech, has complied with TRAI's order and has shut shop in Mumbai. However, Uninor's operations in six other circles, including Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat remains unaffected. This is thanks to Telenor Group securing fresh spectrum for the next 20 years in the six circles of Maharashtra (including Goa), Gujarat, UP East, UP West, Bihar (including Jharkhand) and Andhra Pradesh.
The company says that it will sign roaming agreements with other operators to ensure that all Uninor customers get seamless connectivity when travelling to Mumbai. “All Uninor customers from Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and other circles will continue to be able to use their Uninor phones in Mumbai,” it said.