COAI condemns damage to telecom infra in Punjab during farmers’ protest

‘The disruption of telecom services was causing immense inconvenience to the common man for whom the mobile services are so essential’, COAI director general S.P. Kochhar

Following reports of damage to telecom infrastructure in Punjab during the ongoing farmers’ protest, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) on Tuesday “strongly condemned” the disruption of telecom services.

“While we respect people’s right to protest on any issue, sabotaging the telecom network infrastructure and disrupting telecom services as a form of protest by anyone is strongly condemned,” COAI director general S.P. Kochhar said in a statement.

According to a report by PTI, more than 1,500 telecom towers in Punjab have been damaged by farmers protesting against the three farm laws, disrupting services in some pockets. These towers largely belonged to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio. Reliance Jio has also been losing customers to rivals due to allegations that Mukesh Ambani is likely to be among the beneficiaries of the new agriculture laws which the farmers are protesting against. Recently, the company had said that it has been receiving a large number of port out requests from customers citing this as the sole reason for porting out of Jio without having any complaints or other issues related to Jio services.

Mr. Kochhar added that telecom services were the lifeline of lakhs of customers, including students taking online classes, professionals working from home, people going in for online health consultations in the tough time of COVID-19. The disruption of telecom services, which were considered “essential” under various enactments, was causing immense inconvenience to the common man for whom the mobile services were so essential, he added.

“During the lockdown and the continuing pandemic, warriors of the telecom sector worked tirelessly to provide seamless and uninterrupted connectivity across the length and breadth of the country through doorstep delivery, infrastructure augmentation & 24×7 network support,” he noted.

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