To ensure customers do not face trouble when a telecom operator shuts down services, TRAI has sought public view on issues such as mechanism and timeframe for informing subscribers, and changes in mobile number portability norms for smooth bulk transitioning of users. In its discussion paper on 'issues related to closure of access services', the regulator asked if the advance notice period to subscribers should be doubled to 60 days "so that a subscriber has sufficient time to consume his talktime balance." "Due to the changes in policy for assignment of licence, spectrum management and the beginning of expiry of licences granted 20 years ago (first licence was granted in 1994); there is now a possibility of closure of services to the subscribers by an access service provider," TRAI said. Also, due to spectrum trading between operators and upgradation of technology, there have been cases of service discontinuity to subscribers, TRAI said, adding that these issues prompted it to examine the matter suo moto. TRAI said that continuity of access services was "not assured" for a variety of reasons. These included licensee opting not to renew its licence (Loop Mobile not renewing its licence in 2014), licensee failing to re-acquire its spectrum holding in a spectrum band (Reliance Telecom in Assam, Bihar, Odisha, North-East and West Bengal in 2015), change of technology deployed by licensee (RCOM migrating from CDMA to LTE technology in some service areas), and sale of entire spectrum holding through spectrum trading. TRAI has sought views on issues like need for modification of terms of old licences (Unified Access Service Licence and Cellular Mobile Telephone Service licences), and the mechanism required to ensure that subscribers are informed about the closure of services or technology shift by operator in a "transparent" and effective manner. "Should the TSPs be directed to follow a specified mode of communication for informing subscribers or what could be other mode of communications," TRAI said. The regulator further said in case a service provider is selling its entire spectrum in service areas and intends to discontinue its services, should such a player give 60 days' advance notice to licensor, TRAI and its subscribers, only after the spectrum trading is acknowledged by the Wireless Planning Coordination wing.
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