Odisha among 12 major states with highest telecom devices theft cases: COAI report

The highest 196 devices (equipment from telecom towers) of Bharti Airtel have been stolen from the state during the period, followed by Reliance Jio’s 73.
Image used for representation
Image used for representation

BHUBANESWAR: Theft of telecom devices could be a major factor behind erratic network connectivity across the state even as a latest report ranks Odisha among the 12 major states where such burglaries increased significantly in the last six months.

According to data submitted to the Ministry of Communications by the Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI) represents all three private telecom service providers (TSPs) - Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Limited, as many as 269 thefts of telecom equipment have been reported in the state this year.

The highest 196 devices (equipment from telecom towers) of Bharti Airtel have been stolen from the state during the period, followed by Reliance Jio’s 73. However, no case of theft of Vodafone Idea’s equipment has come to the fore. Rajasthan, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh recorded the maximum theft incidents with 3,624, 2,535 and 2,082 cases respectively, while the surge in theft cases in Odisha is significantly higher than in neighbouring West Bengal (148), Andhra Pradesh (143) and Chhattisgarh (84). Jharkhand has reported 224 cases and Madhya Pradesh 205.

Sources said the theft of active telecom equipment, particularly remote radio units (RRUs) and baseband units (BBUs) posed a serious threat to the Digital India initiative and rollout of 5G network work across the state. It has also put a financial burden on service providers leading to additional expenditure to install new equipment.

Suspecting that the stolen devices are being smuggled to countries like Bangladesh and China, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has urged states, including Odisha, to immediately take action on the complaints filed and instruct police to be vigilant in preventing such thefts of telecom infrastructure.

“Despite implementing preventive measures, telecom service providers are facing challenges in curbing the theft of equipment. Customers are getting severely affected and experiencing deteriorating service quality and in some cases complete disruption of telecom services,” said a DoT official.Meanwhile, the Electronics and IT department has asked all collectors and SPs to instruct their subordinate offices to take such theft matters seriously and initiate stringent action on the complaints immediately.

“The districts have been directed to take exemplary action against miscreants involved in such theft cases in order to curb the incidents of theft of telecom infrastructure for seamless network connectivity as well as to curtail the huge expenditure incurred by the TSPs,” informed an official of E&IT department.

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The New Indian Express