Even though the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the cancellation of 122 telecom licences, customers will not be affected much as firms have been given four months to cease operations, allowing ample time for an arrangement so users can shift to another service provider.
Mobile number portability (MNP), which is in full force across the country, will help customers migrate without much trouble to an operator unaffected by the order.
"Basically, the time period of four months is the time for government to decide to come up with a enhanced market mechanism. After four months, as the licences of the firms are cancelled, their customers will obviously have the choice of opting for another player through MNP," Rajan Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators Association Of India (COAI), told IANS.
The operators whose licences are to be cancelled include some circles of Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Uninor, Loop Telecom, Videocon and S Tel.
But the order does not affect companies that were granted licences before 2008; 3G services for which licences were auctioned will also not be interrupted.
The apex court, while cancelling the licences said the whole allocation process was done in an arbitrary manner. It slapped a cost of Rs 5 crore each on Unitech, Swan Telecom and Tata Teleservices and said half of that will go to the court's legal aid services and the remaining to defence services.
Varying costs have been imposed on other companies also.