With uncertainty still looming large over the proposed 2G spectrum auction post-cancellation of telecom licences by the Supreme Court, yet another mobile operator has decided to shut shop.
Loop Telecom, which had bagged pan-India telecom licence in 2008 under the then Telecom Minister, A. Raja, has asked its subscribers to make use of the mobile number portability to port their mobile number to other operator as the company plans stop its services, barring Mumbai circle, by next month.
Loop Telecom has just around 6,000 subscribers in 13 circles while it is yet to start its operations in eight circles. Almost all its 32-lakh subscribers are in the Mumbai circle (where the firm is known as Loop Mobile) for which it had got licence prior to 2008 and was earlier being operated as BPL Mobile. The 13 circles where Loop Telecom is closing down its operations are — Haryana, Assam, Bihar, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Kolkata, North-East, Uttar Pradesh (West) and Rajasthan.
With this, Loop Telecom will become the third operator to shut shop in India, after S Tel and Etisalat DB, whose names figured in the 122 cancelled licences issued ‘illegally' by the Department of Telecommunications in 2008.
However, two major players — Uninor and MTS, whose licences have also been revoked, are still struggling to save their operations in India.
In its audit report, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India had found major shortcoming in grant of 21 licences to Shipping Stop Dot Com (India) Pvt. Ltd. (Loop Telecom). In its 2G case chargesheet, the Central Bureau of Investigation has found the Essar Group promoters — Ravikant and Anshuman — to be the real promoters of the company (Loop Telecom) and not their relatives — Kiran and her husband IP Khaitan.
Since Essar had stake in Vodafone, they had used the Khaitans as proxy to get pan-India telecom licence, it is alleged.