SRINAGAR: Five private telephone companies — Airtel, Aircel, Idea, Reliance, Vodafone — that have been bearing the brunt of the government’s continued suspension of prepaid and mobile internet in Kashmir Valley have faced significant losses in revenue.
Mobile internet and prepaid phones seized to function on the instructions of the state government when the uprising began on July 8. According to the top office bearers of these companies, who wished to remain anonymous, the companies have done only 15 to 20 percent of the business they did in the same quarter of 2015. Data for the financial quarter of July to September which is with the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) shows that Airtel did an average business between Rs 150 to 180 crore, Aircel Rs 100 to 120 crore, Vodafone and Idea Rs 20 to 30 crore in Kashmir in the quarter of July to September. This year, Airtel has done a business of less than Rs 30 crore, Vodafone less than Rs 20 crore, Vodafone and Idea less than Rs 6 crore.
The company officers told Kashmir Reader that due to the suspension of mobile services, the companies have also lost their customers to BSNL. Until the uprising began, BSNL had only 40,000 to 50,000 mobile connections working in the valley. In the past two-and-half months, more than 40,000 have adopted the services. Officers of private mobile service providers held a meeting with the Indian Telecom ministry last week. They reportedly told the government that they will close their operations in Kashmir Valley if the restrictions on prepaid mobile and internet are not lifted.
“We have received orders from the state administration to block the networks. When we approached them for lifting it, we were repeatedly told that they have orders from the higher ups not to do so. The same thing was communicated to the corporate officers who later met the Indian telecom ministry. As of today we have not been communicated anything about the resumption of services,” the office-bearers told Kashmir Reader.