Bharti, Idea attack CDMA players for inflating customer numbers

Bharti, Idea attack CDMA players for inflating customer numbers

New Delhi: With up to 90% of their subscriber base active on telecom networks, leading GSM operators Bharti and Idea on Monday attacked CDMA players for ‘spreading lies and inflating customers numbers´ to demand extra spectrum.

They welcomed telecom regulator Trai’s initiative to report active subscriber base, which excludes customers who remain switched-off from telecom networks.

“With close to 90 percent active customers for Bharti and 88 percent for Idea, we have maintained high reporting standards to serve genuine information needs, rather than spurious propaganda needs. We welcome this new initiative of the Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) to capture the real active telecom user base in the country," the two firms said in a joint statement.

They said that Trai data has nailed “the canards and lies" spread by a set of telecom players (CDMA), falsely accusing GSM operators of reporting inflated customer numbers.

Tata Teleservices (TTSL) and Reliance Communications (RCom) are the two leading CDMA operators and had recently charged that established GSM operators were holding excess spectrum over and above the contractual limit.

Refuting the allegations made by CDMA players, Airtel and Idea said that “they are the ones who have inflated their own numbers’ as evidenced in the report of their VLR records establishing a very low active customer base both for their long established CDMA operations and the relatively new GSM operations."

The Trai report exposes the double standards of these operators, they added.

The regulator for the first time has reported the visitor location register (VLR) for September, which captures the number of active customers on mobile networks.

VLR is a temporary database of the subscribers who have had their mobiles active as recorded by operators’ base stations. Each base station in the network is served by exactly one VLR, hence a subscriber cannot be present in more than one VLR at a time.

The dual technology players, including Tata Teleservices reported an active user of 44% on its CDMA platform and 46% on the GSM platform.

Reliance Communications had an active user of 66% on the GSM technology and 68.26% on CDMA.

According to the Trai data, of the 687.71 million mobile subscribers, as of September 2010, only 482.89 million users were listed as active subscribers in VLR.

Recently, operators were asked to submit details on all VLR numbers to the government, since they provide details on active customers at any given point of time, excluding switched off and out of coverage area customers.

The decision was taken amid reports that the subscriber numbers reported by the operators were incorrect and did not give a true picture of the number of actual mobile users in the country.