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Bharti Airtel's plan to acquire Tata Tele users may face Trai hurdle

Regulator objects to direct transfer route, says customers must have choice of any other operator when existing one shuts down or merges

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Bharti Airtel Tata Tele merger

Over the coming weeks, over 4 crore Teleservices customers will be automatically shifted to the network under an intra-circle roaming (ICR) arrangement, according to the two companies. However, Telecom regulator Trai is looking to raise objections to the transition.

According to Bharti Airtel, the first batch of the transition was being effected in UP (West), Bihar, and West Bengal.

"Over the coming weeks, all consumer mobile customers of Teleservices across all circles will gradually transition to the network," the company said in a statement last week.

and Group had recently announced that the Consumer Mobile Businesses of Teleservices Limited and Teleservices Maharashtra Limited will be merged into

Trai's objection

Trai said the prescribed procedure is being violated through a direct-transfer route. "Customers are not captive property of any company. They cannot be automatically shifted," a top official with Trai told TOI.

"Customers have a right to choose an operator of their choice in case his/her existing company decides to merge/close down or sell its operations. This can be exercised through the route," the official said.

Airtel, in a statement to Business Standard, however, stated, "This is a standard ICR arrangement under which Teleservices customers get access to the network. They continue to be Teleservices customers enjoying the services being provided by Teleservices. In no way does it curtail the choice of customers as they are free to shift to any network/operator they want to."

Airtel-Teleservices deal

Under the arrangement, Teleservices customers will be able to enjoy uninterrupted services on the network with their existing SIMs and billed as per their existing plans/pack benefits.

Telecom players had recently announced an agreement to merge the consumer mobile businesses of Teleservices and Teleservices Maharashtra into Ajai Puri, Chief Operating Officer, Bharti assured that the "transition will be fully seamless and nothing changes for customers, who will continue on the same SIM and plan".

Fair trade regulator has approved Bharti Airtel's deal to takeover the loss-making consumer mobile business of Group.

The deal will also require the approval of Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), stock exchanges, National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), and Telecom Department among others.

For Airtel, the deal would be the seventh acquisition in five years.

As part of the agreement, TTSL and TTML employees in the 19 circles, managing the consumer mobile business, along with 178.5 MHz of across 800, 1800, 2100 Mhz (3G, 4G) bands would be transferred to

While all of the Rs 31,000 crore debt will remain with the Tatas, will assume close to 20 per cent of the Rs 9,000-10,000 crore deferred payments for the

First Published: Mon, November 27 2017. 19:42 IST