DoT, Trai to look in to options to refund consumers' money

The Telecom Ministry and the sector regulator TRAI will look in to the possibility of refunding money as part of measures to protect interest of consumers on mobile networks that may shut shop soon.

Telecom firms, who neither have spectrum nor the Supreme Court reprieve to continue operations, are to shut operations with immediate effect.

"We will examine the issue and look at how interest of consumers can be saved," a Department of Telecommunications official told PTI.

Similar words were echoed by an official at Telecom Regulatory Authority of India who did not wish to be named.

As per December 2012 data of TRAI, there were over 2.41 crore customers on network of three companies, who are expected to lose connections following the apex court order.

According to present norms, issues related to billing between telecom subscribers and operators can be resolved through arbitration between the two and disputes among them don't fall under ambit of consumer courts.

The Supreme Court today directed that the "entire" licenses quashed by it for 2G spectrum be auctioned without "further delay" and those telecom firms which were unsuccessful and did not participate in the auction process will cease to operate "forthwith".

Post Supreme Court order of February 2, 2012, telecom companies Uninor, Sistema Shyam (SSTL), Videocon and Tata Teleservices (TTL) were continuing their operations. These companies were required to win spectrum through November 2012 auction to continue their services beyond January 18, 2013.

Out of these, only Uninor and Videocon participated in auction and won spectrum in 6 circles each. SSTL and TTL did not participate in the auction.

A TTL spokesperson said: "Tata Teleservices has complied with Supreme Court order and closed operation (of 3 CDMA licences) on January 18. The company has also completed process to transfer its customers on other network through Mobile Number Portability service."

Uninor can continue operations in six circles but connection of its customers in other service will have to be closed down.

Sistema Shyam said that it has "filed an application dated Jan 10, 2013 in the Supreme Court saying that the company wants to continue its operations and intends to participate in upcoming auctions in March 2013. The Honourable Supreme Court is going to give a separate order on the same. The said order is awaited."

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