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S Tel may shut shop; helps users switch to other operator

Mobile operator S Tel, whose licenses were among the 122 quashed by the Supreme Court earlier this month, on Tuesday said it is helping its subscribers switch to other operators, a possible indication that the firm may be shutting shop.

twitter-logoPTI | February 21, 2012 | Updated 22:32 IST

Mobile operator S Tel, whose licenses were among the 122 quashed by the Supreme Court earlier this month, on Tuesday said it is helping its subscribers switch to other operators, a possible indication that the firm may be shutting shop.

"S Tel had already reached out to its subscribers, and its channel partners vide an SMS campaign and information posted on its website... after the recent judgment of the Supreme Court, we have informed that the S Tel's subscribers if they so deem fit, they may opt for the MNP option," S Tel said in a statement.

MNP is mobile number portability, which allows mobile phone users to retain their number, while moving from one service provider to the other.

S Tel, a joint venture between Bahrain Telecom and Chennai-based Siva Group , is the first telecom company affected by the Supreme Court order, to have offered its customers migration to other operators.

The Supreme Court, on February 2, had ordered cancellation of 122 licences issued by the then telecom minister A Raja in 2008 and asked government to auction the spectrum thus released within four months.

The company said its infrastructure and media vendors have intensified disconnection of services since the SC judgment.

"S Tel has been ascertaining with its advisors, the steps that could be taken to address the customer pain arising out of such a force majeure kind of effect created by the unfolding scenario," it added.

On participation in the proposed auction, S Tel said, "Taking part in the auction, will be decided by S Tel's board after evaluating the final recommendations by TRAI with regard to the auction."

On February 8, foreign shareholder in S Tel, Bahrain Telecom, was the first global firm to announce its exit from the Indian telecom market by selling its nearly 43 per cent stake for $175 million.

Batelco had acquired 42.7 per cent stake in STel via two transactions in May and June 2009 for a total of $174.5 million.

S Tel had said that the decision to sell was a "part of an earlier understanding with Indian partner to exit, given the circumstances surrounding the 2G probe in India over the past 12 months".

The agreed time-frame for completion of the sale is the end of October, 2012.

S Tel had bagged 2G licences in January 2008 in six circles - Assam, North-East, Bihar, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and the company is estimated to have a subscriber base of over 3.6 million.

S Tel also owns 3G radio spectrum in three zones.

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