Srinagar, Oct 9: If no SMS service is irking the subscribers in the state, it is not doing any good to the cellular companies either, who face huge revenue losses due to snapping of the service.
The short message service or SMS was suspended on August 3 in Jammu and on August 5 in the Valley in the wake of violent clashes and protests in the state following the Amarnath land transfer row. The state government had pleaded before the Supreme Court to ban the SMS services in the state, "as these were adding fuel to the fire." But despite situation improving considerably in the state, the ban has not been lifted by the government as yet.
A senior Airtel official wishing anonymity said the company has suffered a loss of around Rs 18 crore in the past two months. Bharti Airtel, which charges Re 1 per local SMS, has got the highest customer base of over 10 lakh in the state.
"We are suffering a huge loss of Rs 30 lakhs daily that makes it Rs 18 crore in sixty days," the official said.
Similarly, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is incurring a daily loss of Rs 25 lakh that makes it Rs 15 crore in two months.
BSNL has got the second highest number of mobile subscribers in the state that is over 8 lakh. Aircel, having over 4 lakh subscribers in the state, has suffered a loss of around Rs 8 crore in past two months, with a daily loss of Rs 12 lakh.
According to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the state had 20,97,086 mobile users in March 2008 that included 10,00154 subscribers of Airtel, 817916 of BSNL and 279016 that of Aircel. However, on September 23, Aircel crossed 4 lakh subscriber mark in the state.
An official said SMS were mostly used by the youngsters for sharing information, greetings, jokes and quotations, "for which phone calls are not preferred."
"On average every youngster sends at least five SMSes a day," he said.
The mobile operators, however, said the services can not be resumed "until government directs them for the same."
The subscribers were annoyed with the ban and demanded restoration of the service "as soon as possible."
"Sometimes the person you want to talk to is non-reachable or is busy in a meeting; there you can use the SMS. But with the service banned, we are facing problems," said Muhammad Adnan, a subscriber.
Some subscribers said they have to pay more for passing a message through a phone call which could have been sent through SMS.
"SMS is the cheapest means to contact. What one could convey through SMS at a cost of Re 1 has to be conveyed through a phone call; and once you make a call, it's difficult to end," said Insha, a BSNL subscriber. "It is actually subscribers' loss," she added.