COAI has asked the Indian government to take steps including blocking websites and working with state police departments to bring down equipment theft.

Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor

March 18, 2024

2 Min Read
(Source: Wael Alreweie/Alamy Stock Photo)

Indian telcos have made an unusual request to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has requested the DoT to block several international websites, including eBay, Alibaba, Telefly, Seeker816 and Dorfatrade, among others.

The reason? COAI says there has been an unprecedented surge in the theft of telecom gear in a few circles (service areas). These websites are being used by thieves to sell stolen active telecom equipment, primarily remote radio units (RRUs) and baseband units (BBUs).

COAI says the menace of stealing telecom gear is particularly intense in the states of Delhi NCR, Rajasthan, Assam, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In a letter dated March 14 and addressed to Telecom Secretary Neeraj Mittal, COAI also asks the DoT to work with the states to protect telecom infrastructure. All private service providers, including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, are COAI members. 

The letter also suggests that the DoT should coordinate with states to offer police protection of telecom infrastructure, especially in theft-prone areas. 

"This is to bring to your kind attention a very serious issue being faced by our member TSPs (telecom service providers) across multiple circles – the incidents of theft of active equipment are at an all-time high...from October 2023 onwards, such incidents have increased multi-fold," Lt General Dr SP Kochhar, Director General at COAI wrote in the letter.

The growing theft of telecom gear is predictably leading to additional expenses for telcos in replacing the stolen component and disruption in services for their subscribers. "With the rising incidents of theft, customers are the ones suffering the most. While these incidents almost always lead to a decline in the quality of services to the customers being served by the site, there may also be instances where services cease completely," said Lt General Dr Kochhar in the letter. 

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About the Author(s)

Gagandeep Kaur

Contributing Editor

With more than a decade of experience, Gagandeep Kaur Sodhi has worked for the most prominent Indian communications industry publications including Dataquest, Business Standard, The Times of India, and Voice&Data, as well as for Light Reading. Delhi-based Kaur, who has knowledge of and covers a broad range of telecom industry developments, regularly interacts with the senior management of companies in India's telecom sector and has been directly responsible for delegate and speaker acquisition for prominent events such as Mobile Broadband Summit, 4G World India, and Next Generation Packet Transport Network.

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