The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has opposed Bharti Airtel’s acquisition of Mumbai-based cellco Loop Mobile, claiming that the takeover is against existing rules on licensing and mobile number portability (MNP), Live Mint writes. In a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the TRAI claimed that the proposal to transfer Loop’s subscribers to Airtel ‘violates the spirit of MNP regulations regarding the freedom of a subscriber to choose [a] network of its choice’, adding that such a move would also deprive the government of a substantial sum in lost porting fees. The authority said that Loop’s subscribers must be informed that the cellco is closing up shop, and told to port out voluntarily.
As previously noted by CommsUpdate, Bharti Airtel agreed to purchase Loop Mobile in February 2014, with the cellco expected to pay INR7 billion (USD116.45 million) for Loop’s active infrastructure, consisting of more than 2,500 sites, and nearly three million subscribers in the Mumbai circle. Loop has been in dire financial straits since the cancellation of sister company Loop Telecom’s licences for 21 operating areas in February 2012, and with its sole remaining concession – for the Mumbai circle – due to expire this year, Loop Mobile faces closure if it cannot repurchase its licence through an upcoming competitive tender.