Maxis-owned Aircel racing to maintain roaming pacts to keep network going, says report

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 28): Indian telecomunications company Aircel, which is 74%-owned by Maxis Communications, is racing to work out intra-circle roaming pacts with other telcos to keep its network running to allow its users to port out to other operators if they wish to, after tower operator GTL Infrastructure disconnected about a third of the struggling carrier’s telecom sites in several circles.

India’s The Economic Times yesterday reported that in a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the carrier, highlighted the ‘deep financial stress’, that it was going through amid a cash crunch, and requested the regulator to issue directions to all carriers and mobile number portability (MNP) providers to allot additional porting codes in circles where Aircel's subscriber base is over 1 million.

The report said Aircel also asked for the porting codes to be kept valid till 45 days, a month longer than the norm of 15 days, adding that Trai on Tuesday ordered the same.

The Economic Times said Aircel’s letter and the regulator’s directive indicates that the beleaguered carrier, which had over 80 million subscribers in December, has run out of options to bring its operations out of troubled waters.

The report added that Idea Cellular has already suspended interconnect with Aircel early this month, while Vodafone India has snapped interconnect for messages, STD and international mobile calls.

Citing sources, The Economic Times said that having shut operations in six circles - Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh (West) - in December last year, Aircel is expected to file for bankruptcy at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).