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Corporate row cuts off 1.7M Indian mobile phone users
Row between Etisalat DB and Reliance Comms; Reliance says disconnected EDB due to non-payment of fees; EDB says had faced network disruption since Friday; EDB cits technical issue beyond its control
January 25, 2012 1:55 by Reuters
Some 1.7 million phone subscribers with India’s Etisalat DB have been cut off following a dispute between the telecoms operator and Reliance Communications.
Etisalat DB uses Reliance’s base stations to provide services in 15 zones in India under a $2 billion, 10-year deal signed in 2009, but Reliance on Tuesday said in a statement it had disconnected its tenant, citing non-payment of fees.
Etisalat DB, a joint venture between the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat and India’s DB Group, said it had faced network disruption across India since Friday due to a technical issue beyond its control.
It did not mention any dispute with Reliance, but in a separate statement Etisalat urged the two parties to reach a resolution. The United Arab Emirates operator owns a 45 percent stake in Etisalat DB.
“Despite repeated reminders, payments have been inordinately delayed by EDB (Etisalat DB) without any reasonable cause, leading to the disconnection of services,” Reliance said.
Etisalat DB issued a statement apologising to its customers for “a temporary mobile service disruption”, adding it was working around-the-clock to resolve the issue.
“This is a local matter between EDB and its vendor, therefore it is not appropriate for us to comment,” Etisalat said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
“We are being advised regularly by EDB’s management team and we encourage both parties to reach a resolution quickly.”
Etisalat DB, which had 1.67 million subscribers as of December, is ranked 14th among India’s 15 mobile operators.
Etisalat DB and top executives of the DB Group are among several companies and more than dozen people charged by police over the alleged below-market-price sale of telecom permits in 2008.
All the accused have denied any wrongdoing. Etisalat has said the events described in the charges pre-date its entry into India. (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Additional reporting by Matt Smith in Dubai; Editing by Ted Kerr and David Holmes) *image from growthinstitute.in