Etisalat DB’s mobile network, which spans 15 of India’s telecoms circles, has reportedly been disrupted in the wake of a payment dispute with Reliance Communications (RCOM), the latter of which leases tower capacity to Etisalat DB. It is understood that RCOM has said it will no longer continue to provide access to its tower infrastructure until Etisalat DB makes good on outstanding payments. According to the India’s Economic Times, Etisalat DB issued an official statement regarding the matter, which said: ‘Etisalat DB apologises to its customers for a temporary mobile service disruption on Friday due to a technical issue beyond our control. Our team has been working round-the-clock to resolve the issue and restore the mobile services at the earliest.’ The news outlet meanwhile cited an unnamed RCOM spokesperson as saying of the company’s decision to halt access to it towers: ‘Despite repeated reminders, payments have been inordinately delayed by Etisalat DB without any reasonable cause, leading to the disconnection of services.’
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, with the Etisalat DB having reportedly entered into discussions that could see it gain access to RCOM’s wireless tower infrastructure in early 2009, in July that year the two companies inked a ten-year deal worth around INR100 billion (USD2.2 billion) under which Etisalat DB agreed to outsource its infrastructure requirements to RCOM. The deal formed part of Etisalat DB’s preparations for the launch of mobile operations and covered both towers and transmission across 15 circles; around 30,000 towers will be shared under the agreement. It had also been understood that the scope of the deal could be extended in the future to include last-mile connectivity, co-location services and national long-distance (NLD) and international long-distance (ILD) services, although the recent spat over payment could serve to cloud the prospect of such an extension.