Tata calls for investigation into overstating of subscriber stats

22 May 2006

Indian mobile operator Tata Teleservices has asked the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to contract an ‘accredited third party’ to verify the subscriber bases of the country’s wireless operators, amid claims that companies are overstating their customer numbers in order to retain spectrum rights, Zee News reports. A new spectrum distribution policy was published in March, stating that future frequency allocations will depend on the size of an operator’s subscriber base in any given telecoms circle or a city in metro areas. The new rules mean that the more subscribers an operator has, the more spectrum it can apply for, subject to availability.

The new policy has led to concerns that cellcos will illegally inflate subscriber numbers to obtain or retain spectrum. In a letter sent to DoT Secretary J S Sarma, Tata Tele claims that an executive at a rival operator has already admitted to overstating customer figures: ‘It may be recalled that during the course of discussions, one of the heads of a leading telecom company openly accepted the fact that verification of existing pre-paid subscribers will result in shortfall of up to 40% of the subscriber base’.