New Delhi: In an effort to ensure that India’s phone service firms are in compliance with subscriber conditions in their licence agreements with the Union government, the department of telecommunications, or DoT, has decided to send a notice to a Vodafone Essar Ltd unit over discrepancies found in the operator’s subscriber verification practices.
Vodafone Essar Digilink Ltd is the name of the firm under which Vodafone Essar, India’s third largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, offers services in areas of Rajasthan, eastern Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
“We have found a number of discrepancies in the verifications done over the past year. We are in the process of sending letters to all the operators with whom discrepancies were found as part of tests carried out over the last one year in the different circles,” a senior DoT official said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to the media. “The letters should go out within the next 10 days.” Mint reviewed the letter to be sent to Vodafone Essar Digilink.
In trouble: Vodafone is one of the firms where DoT has found discrepancies. It will get the letter from DoT within 10 days. Prashanth Vishwanathan / Bloomberg
A Vodafone Essar spokesperson, contacted late on Saturday, said he would not be able to comment until Monday.
DoT, worried over the use of mobile phones by criminals, had asked cellular firms to disconnect services to customers who did not have documentation, such as a proof of address, which is mandated under government rules before issuing a connection, by 31 March 2007. It had fixed a penalty of Rs1,000 for each unverified subscriber and had also asked phone firms to physically verify each subscriber.
According to a report by DoT’s vigilance and telecom monitoring cell for the eastern Uttar Pradesh service area, verification of bona fide subscribers is done by dialling 10% of the activations. In this exercise, it was found that 40% of verifications in March 2008 and 25% in April that year were faulty. “This indicates that the licensee is not ensuring adequate verification of subscribers before enrolling them as subscribers,” the cell said in a letter.
India has some 400 million mobile phone customers, second only to China.