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20 cr prepaid cell connections may be cut

20 cr prepaid cell connections may be cut
More than 20 crore prepaid mobile phone connections which are either inactive or hardly being used are likely to be disconnected in the near future as telecom companies are short of numbers for new connections, according to sources.

At least 5.5 crore inactive prepaid connections have already been either disconnected or are in the process of getting deactivated since last July, sources added. The government has found that telecom companies have deliberately exaggerated their subscriber base to grab more spectrum.

Operators were directed early last year to disconnect connections after they approached the Department of Telecommunications and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) for releasing additional spectrum based on their high subscriber base. They also wanted more landline numbers to be freed for mobile phone subscribers.

According to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), there is an unused and inactive subscriber base of around 15 per cent of the total 93 crore mobile connections in the country.

COAI director general Rajan S. Mathews told Mail Today on Friday that companies are waiting for fresh directives from Trai, which is currently consulting with stakeholders to frame rules for disconnecting such connections especially prepaid ones.

"Once Trai guidelines are issued for disconnection, more numbers will be available for prepaid connections. Trai rules will also address complaints of genuine subscribers whose numbers have been wrongly disconnected," Mathews added.

Idea has the highest active subscriber base at 95 per cent followed by Airtel at 92 per cent, Vodafone 90 per cent, RCom 76 per cent, Tata Teleservices 62 per cent and Aircel 60 per cent. According to government data, a total of 200 million mobile connections are inactive for a time interval ranging from 30 days to six months with an average account balance of over Rs 6 per connection.

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