Govt extends pre-paid mobile services in J and K till March only

The re-verification has to be in accordance with the strict guidelines put forward for telecom operators offering pre-paid mobile connections in Jammu & Kashmir and northeastern states.

The government has extended the validity of its permission for the use of pre-paid SIM cards in these states only till March 31 and nearly 40 lakh subscribers may lose their connections if the decision is not revoked.

In January, 2010, the government had lifted a ban on the use of pre-paid mobile connections in the North-East and Jammu & Kashmir for one year and had notified strict criteria for re-verification of subscribers, along with other conditions.

"It has been decided to extend the said permission for continuance of pre-paid mobile services in J&K Service Area till March 31, 2011, with the conditions mentioned therein," an official notification issued recently said.

This also applies to the Assam and North-East service areas, an official notification said.

"It may be noted that the validity of pre-paid connections should be restricted up to March 31, 2011, and in no case the pre-paid mobile connections shall be usable beyond March 31, 2011, on the basis of this permission," a DoT notification to all mobile operators in J&K, Assam and North-East service areas said.

In the fresh guidelines, it was stated that though no customer shall be given more than one pre-paid or post-paid connection, if an individual desires to avail more connections, he will have to give reasons.

Under no condition will one household in the state be entitled to more than six connections, it said.

The new mobile connections will be issued only against documents having photographs of the customers and at the end of every month, a list of fresh connections would be submitted to state police and telecom watchdog TERM.

Though no reason was given for extending the permission only till March, sources in-the-know said that this was done only as a temporary solution and a final decision was expected soon in this regard.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) is working on the modalities of permitting pre-paid mobile services in these sensitive areas with the the concerned agencies and operators and a final decision will be announced soon, they said.

Asked whether the operators have not implemented the guidelines properly or whether there was some other reason for the limited extension of the permission, the sources declined comment.

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