Doubts persist over continuance of pre-paid mobile phone services in Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and other Northeastern states beyond March 31 as government is yet to take a decision on extending permission to telecom service providers for the facility in these sensitive regions. If a decision is not taken within next two days, about 33 million subscribers may be affected.
A high-level committee headed by Union Home Secretary LC Goyal will deliberate on the issue on Monday where a final decision on whether to continue the pre-paid service in these regions will be taken, highly placed sources told PTI.
The Home Ministry is expected to give its nod to continue the pre-paid mobile services in the three telecom circles -- Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Northeast -- with some riders that include restrictions on some frontier pockets and sensitive areas where there is presence of militant groups.
A few norms could also be added in the existing subscriber verification process. Jammu and Kashmir shares border with Pakistan while most of the Northeastern states share international border with countries like China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Out of roughly 35 million telecom subscribers in the three circles, about 33 millions are pre-paid subscribers.
Currently, telecom companies offering GSM and CDMA technology platform have permission to continue the service in these sensitive regions till March 31. If the permission is given, it will be for two years. It was in March, 2013 when the last decision was taken allowing the telecom service providers to offer the pre-paid mobile phone services in these three telecom circles for two years.
In 2009, the Department of Telecom had banned pre-paid mobile phone services in these regions citing national security grounds. The ban was withdrawn the next year but the department tightened the verification process for new customers and ordered re-verification of existing subscribers.