Verification of subscriber base and selling of pre-activated SIM cards is proving to be the point over which the Tata Group telecom companies have threatened to pull out of the apex advisory council for telecom in India. Following the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, on 11 July, 2006, the council (ACT) has asked all telecom service providers to verify 10 per cent of their total subscriber base.
However, the Tata group firms - Tata Teleservices Ltd and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) - are in favour of a 100-per cent verification.
Emphasising that this is an issue of national security and would cost time and money, the Tata firms are in favour of full verification.
The group has also sought a curb on the sales of pre-activated SIM cards. There are around 80 million GSM customers and 26 million CDMA customers. Of these, the Tatas service over five million mobile subscribers.
The Tata companies have informed the ACT that the industry has no choice except to commit to the government that it will do everything necessary to complete the required verification of the subscriber base, for both pre and post-paid connections.
The group has also asked the ACT to "rethink" the issue, failing which the Tatas would surrender their membership with the association. After the recent serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, the department of telecommunications (DoT) sent a notice on July 14 to all operators regarding verification.
The ACT is an industrial association that was jointly formed by the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (Auspi) and the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI), which are apex bodies of CDMA and GSM service providers, respectively.