What would a mobile user do when he would be offered services like mobile broadband with 7.2 mbps bandwidth, video calls on his mobile, mobile TV by which he can watch 110 channels live, multi-user gaming facility and streaming videos but would be barred from the basic facility of short messaging service (SMS). He would certainly shout in disgust.
That is exactly what many telecommunication users of Kashmir expressed to Hindustan Times when Reliance Communications announced the launch of 3G services in Kashmir, saying they have been given approval by security agencies and Home Ministry.
The place where about 30 lakh prepaid customers, are reeling under a state imposed ban on SMS service since June 2010 due to “security concerns”, the service, though come as a relief but at the same time was paradoxical.
“Although the launch of 3G is good but why are we still being barred from SMS service. I want to hear the SMS beeps of my mobile again. I feel I have not heard it for ages now,” 18-year-old higher secondary Student, Aijaz Ahmad said.
Circle Head of Reliance Communications in J&K, Ataul Haque at a press gathering in Srinagar demonstrated the uses of 3G service. “We have got approval of the Government of India, Home Ministry and Security Agencies for launching the service in Kashmir,” he said after asked about the same.
“In first phase the service has been made available to areas of Srinagar, Budgam (in central Kashmir) and Ganderbal,” he said. The Reliance has about 4 Lakh customers across the state, most of whom are prepaid.
Haque said that it would be extended to rest of Kashmir next month. “Next month we would extend it to Baramulla, Anantnag, Pulwama and tourist destinations like Gulmarg and Pahalgam,” he added.
Common man wants the revocation of SMS ban by the state. “As a common man I want SMS service restored. If government can allow 3G service, why not SMS? They are allowing additional service like 3-G and barring the basic service of SMS,” said Ikhlaq Qadri, a Kashmir university student.
The service also comes at a time when Department of Telecommunication in a notification to mobile operations extended the permission for prepaid mobile connections in Jammu and Kashmir till March 31, 2011, giving rise to apprehensions that the prepaid might again be banned.
“We are coming up as per the guidelines of DoT and GoI,” Haque claimed.