The telecom operators association, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), has written a letter to the department of telecommunication (DoT) after the Rajasthan government announced its decision of suspending internet and data services to ensure no cheating during exams.
In the letter to DoT, COAI said that the internet services were suspended for more than fifty times in the past six months by the Rajasthan Government and these suspensions were made during various examinations. Since August 2017, the internet services were suspended for more than 140 times in the state.
The internet services were suspended during the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers 2018, Rajasthan Police Constable Recruitment and Rajasthan State & Subordinate Services Combined Competitive Examination 2018.
The association in its letter has said that such suspensions have led to losses to the service providers. It has used Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) report to back its claim of losses. The ICRIER report -- the Anatomy of the Internet Blackout: Measuring the Economic Impact of Internet Shutdowns in India, published on April 25, 2018 -- claims internet shutdown between 2012-2017, which was around 16,315 hours or 680 days, has caused a loss of $3.04 billion or Rs 87,000 crore to India.
COAI said, "The practice of suspension of internet service adversely impacts the union government's Digital India mission."
The letter also mentions that such suspensions are also diluting the true spirit of the preamble of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
According to the rules, the state secretary is the person who can issue orders of suspension of internet services that to only in unavoidable circumstances. However, Rajasthan government has diluted the instructions of the rules through a notification dated September 2, 2017, delegated the powers to home department officers in the field, i.e., to Divisional Commissioners.