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Cellphone users buy new SIMs, migrate in hope of stronger signal in Kolkata

Exasperated over continuous loss of cellphone and Wi-Fi signals for the last seven days, a number of cellular services subscribers are either migrating to a new operator or buying a new SIM of another telecom player, they believe, would provide stronger signal in their respective areas.

Sources in Kolkata circle’s three cellular biggies — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — admitted that customer acquisition and operator migration have shot up over the past few days. However, none of them could come up with a number as the store sales data is yet to be collated and audited by the authorities concerned.

Most technical staffers said it will be a short-lived trend. Arunava Majumder, a senior network engineer, said, “Strong signal varies from area to area, from one firm to another. With the onset of ICR (intra-circle roaming) from last Thursday, any subscriber could have manually chosen another operator’s signal that he or she finds the strongest.”

But consumers who opted for a new SIM or switched operators complained that the ICR move did not yield much. “I had no option. Staying connected is essential for my job and I had to buy multiple SIMs just to stay connected to others during this calamity. My operator was giving me a nightmare,” said Kallol Mukherji, technical head of Asia for health at a leading Swiss NGO, and a resident of Urbana complex in Anandapur.

Mobile stores across the city saw long queues. “You may call it a craze or peer pressure, people are making area-specific queries on which operator can provide the strongest signal,” said Mitul Koley, a sales executive at a Relience Jio counter on Rashbehari Avenue.

Although voice calls returned to near normal, internet services remained a bother. Wired internet majors such as Alliance, SITI Cable, Wishnet and Hathway have not been able to activate their connections across a large part of Kolkata. “Delicate handling of fallen trees would have saved many optical fibre lines. Services will take around 10 days to normalize across Kolkata,” said Atanu Saha, a network executive of a broadband major in Behala.

Engineers at cellular service firms on Tuesday rued that lack of coordination between the administration and power distribution agencies resulted in the damage of optical fibres while clearing roads. “We wanted to revive voice service first for emergencies,” said a senior Vodafone Idea official.

—Times of India

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