February 22, 2018
Chennai: Financial dispute with tower infrastructure provider in Tamil Nadu has completely crippled Aircel mobile telephony in Tamil Nadu. Panic stricken customers tried to migrate away from the service provider resulting in the crash of its server too, further causing anxiety to the them.
Across Tamil Nadu, Aircel customers complained that there were no signals available for their phones for the past few days, and have been thronging the offices of Aircel centres in the state, but are getting little or no relief.
Aircel has around 15 million customers in Tamil Nadu, where the company hails from, out of the total 89 million customers across the country.
Aircel, promoted by Malaysian firm Maxis Communication, has been into financial crisis in the recent past also due o the fact that the banks have restricted credit lines to the players due to various issues. A proposed deal to merge the company with Reliance Communications also failed earlier.
The current problem started with one of the tower infrastructure providers, which operates 10,000 towers for Aircel in Tamil Nadu, allegedly switched off around 9,000 towers, completely shutting down services in the state.
The dispute is related to payment of penalty on the penalty to be paid by the telecom company to the infrastructure provider for around five to six circles closed down a few years back, said company sources. The matter is also pending in the court.
Company officials said that it has received almost ten times of requests to port in the last couple of days, compared to what it usually see, and this has choked the system.
Aircel’s Twitter account, which has around 6,74,000 followers, was also filled with customer requests and complaints related to portability.
“We have dumped all the requests from the automatic system into Excel and passed it to all our outlets, where the customers can go and collect the port number if they have already applied for,” said K Sankara Narayanan, head – SBU (South), Aircel.
“We are also engaged in talks to negotiate with the infrastructure provider to bring back the operations, so that the customers would not suffer,” he said, adding that the company has temporarily made arrangements with other telecom service providers, so that the customers can manually change the network to those service providers at least to send a request to port the services.
Aircel also has around 1,000 out of the total 5,000 employees in the company working in Tamil Nadu and if the company winds up, it will be difficult for all of them to find alternative employment.