By Anusha Ashwin
CHENNAI: For the past few days, there has been an uproar among Reliance Communication’s data subscribers in Chennai. Consumers at large have posted innumerable complaints about the telecom major led by Anil Dhirubhai Ambani. It is a known fact that Reliance Communication (RCom) has initiated the process of moving its existing data subscribers from 3G to 4G. But has the process been smooth and has the company dealt with the shift at ease? Well the answer is No!
Customers here in Chennai have been agonized by loss or intermittent data connectivity from July 10, 2016. Consumers who use the company’s wireless connection have experienced data exchange at an extremely slow speed affecting all internet related activities. Subscribers have voiced their complaints on the network coverage being very poor in the recent days which has affected browsing in full speed.
Consumers were further infuriated when RCom’s Customer Care helpline remained unanswered or when customer care representatives were unable to validate the slow connectivity or loss in connectivity. Most subscribers made a beeline to their local area RCom outlet just to realize that there is a network sharing agreement with MTS. It has to be recalled that RCom has a spectrum sharing agreement with MTS. Russian conglomerate Sistema’s Indian telecom unit, Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd (SSTL) operates under the MTS brand in India.
Another major reason that irked Chennai consumers is the absolute compulsion to purchase a new device that accommodates the 4G SIM card, which was provided by the company at free of cost. Existing consumers, who use Wi-Fi Reliance Pro 3 dongle or a Wi-pod, now, need to compulsorily purchase a new device that costs Rs 2,700 to upgrade to 4G. The consumers were also informed that their existing 3G compatible device will be non-functional from August 1, 2016, as the company will no more operate on 3G spectrum. Few customers have felt betrayed at this decision by RCom, as there have been many consumers who purchased a 3G compatible wireless device just in early 2016. Also, the consumers feel that this was unfairly planned to allow billing cycle for the previous month to complete.
In the meantime, this problem gave many other competing and leading data providers the opportunity to attract new customers with upgraded plans and smooth 4G connection at higher speed. How much of RCom’s customer base in Chennai actually gets retained with the service provider is yet to be seen.