Aircel has been in the news for the past couple of days due to its financial issues. A few days earlier reports also emerged about how the telecom operator warned its employees of difficult times ahead. As reports mention, profitability and revenue of the company is on a decline. In the midst of this, Aircel customers from Tamil Nadu and the Northeast, especially Assam took to social media to complain about its interrupted services.
Some customers even laid siege to some of its outlets in Coimbatore following rumours about closure of its service. A company official clarified the network service provider was facing some issues and they were trying to resolve it. According to some of the customers they were neither able to make a call nor receive and they termed it as the first step towards total closure of services.
Some even complained that they were unable to use the mobile number porting facility due to network issues.
The company outlet employees tried to convince the protesting customers, saying the rumours were spread by the competitors and claimed there were no such issues. But when contacted by PTI, an official spokesperson of Aircel, said they were trying to resolve the issue. "Aircel is facing network issues and we are trying to find a way to resolve this at the soonest possible," the official said.
The interruption in service arose from tower infrastructure providers stopping their services for the company due to financial issues. One of the operators that control around 10,000 towers in Tamil Nadu, switched off 9,000 of them.
There has also been a mass exodus of customers who are opting for portability, leading to crashing of Aircel servers. Around 15 million of its 89 million customers are in Tamil Nadu alone. According to a report in Business Standard, company officials revealed that in the past few days they have received almost 10 times the number of port requests they usually receive. A crash of servers means that the supply of porting codes has been affected.
To put it in perspective, Aircel received a million port requests in the past few days, with half of them coming on Wednesday itself. The company has the capacity to handle less than 1,00,000 port requests in a month.
K Sankara Narayanan, head of SBU (South), Aircel, said that they are in talks with the tower infrastructure provider to put their services back up so that customers don't suffer. According to reports Aircel is now creating manual codes to see through each of these porting requests.
The onslaught of Jio has been felt acutely by the company. Aircel's profits dropped to Rs 5 crore by mid-year in 2017 after the launch of Jio, before it slid to an operating loss of Rs 120 crore. Last year, Aircel and Reliance Communications had planned to join hands but the deal did not materialise either.
Aircel, owned by Malaysia's Maxis Communications is considering filing for bankruptcy under NCLT.
(With PTI inputs)