NEW DELHI : The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Monday directed Tata Teleservices to refund the unspent balance of its pre-paid mobile subscribers as well as the security deposit of its postpaid users in 16 circles.

The regulator’s diktat comes after the Tata company surrendered the 800 Mhz spectrum in the circles and stopped its CDMA (code division multiple access) services on February 28.

In the case of pre-paid customers who ported out in the wake of the company shutting its operations, the company is supposed to transfer the unspent amount to the new service provider of the user.

There are 16 circles in which Tata Teleservices was allocated spectrum when it came bundled with the licence. There are five circles in which the company had acquired spectrum through an auction and it continues to operate services in those. These are Delhi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh.

The company has been asked to submit a compliance report by August 20.

Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications are two companies that had secured a dual licence in 2007-08 and moved to offering telecom services based on global system for mobile communications (GSM) technology.

Telecom, generally a three-to-four player sector in most countries, had more than ten operators in some of the 22 circles after new licences were issued in 2008 by the then Telecom Minister A. Raja in the United Progressive Alliance government. All the 122 licences issued by Raja were cancelled by the Supreme Court in 2012 in the wake of what came to be known as the 2G scam.

Subsequent auctions that led to inflated spectrum prices and high-intensity competition, compounded by Reliance Jio Infocomm’s entry in 2016, made operations unviable for many. The likes of Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices were its victims.