Telecom sector too could face a blackout: COAI

Telecom sector too could face a blackout: COAI New Delhi: Highlighting that mobile services were not impacted by the worst ever blackout, GSM industry body COAI on Thursday asked the government to address the issues faced by operators to avoid a situation similar to what happened in the power sector.

"The major failures in the power supply grids of the North and East zones had brought the daily lives of more than 60 crore people and businesses across 21 states to a near standstill. In the midst of such conditions, the entire private mobile network remained functional and available," COAI said in a letter to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal.

"We are concerned that what has happened to the power industry may become the fate of the mobile industry. Continuing policy and regulatory indifference to the health of the mobile industry can only lead to the starvation of the needed investments in the networks and related infrastructure," it said.

COAI asked the government to take cognisance of the impending crisis for the telecom sector.

"... And act urgently towards restoring the financial health and viability to ensure that it continues to provide affordable services to citizens of India and does not meet the similar fate as the power sector," the letter said.

The Cabinet is likely to meet tomorrow to discuss the reserve price and usage charges of spectrum that is to be auctioned as per the Supreme Court order.

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), headed by P Chidambaram, has suggested a 20 percent lower base or reserve price at Rs 14,000-15,000 crore for 5 Mhz of airwaves as against around Rs 18,000 crore recommended by sectoral regulator Trai for the auction of spectrum vacated after the Supreme Court order.

The industry has been pitching for a 80 percent cut in the reserve price as they feel TRAI recommended rates would lead to up to 100 percent hike in mobile telephone charges.

Talking about how the telecom operators managed to offer services during the power failure earlier this wee, COAI said the operators re-aligned resources to handle the situation with efficiency and carefully managed and secured backup power usage at the network switch hubs.

"While diesel is filled in the generators every 12 hours during normal days, operators pressed in additional manpower and resources to ensure that generators were refueled every 4 hours during the outage so as to facilitate uninterrupted service to the people," it said.

COAI said network teams of operators worked extra time to ensure that there are no outages at switching centres.

PTI