Why Mumbai Police is facing severe issues with mobile network coverage

As the cellular service provider is on the verge of shutting services in the city, Mumbai Police, one of its biggest subscribers, is bearing the brunt of its network connectivity issues

Mumbai Police are having trouble getting tip-offs from informers, not because there is a lack of the latter, but because of the poor network coverage on the policemen’s mobile phones.

Cops say they are unable to keep in touch with informers, owing to Loop Mobile’s poor network coverage. Police are also having trouble with porting their number to other providers. Pic for representation
Cops say they are unable to keep in touch with informers, owing to Loop Mobile’s poor network coverage. Police are also having trouble with porting their number to other providers. Pic for representation

Almost the entire city force is a subscriber of Loop Mobile, and with the cellular service provider winding up operations in the city, the police are facing issues with network coverage.

The service provider had attracted many policemen in the mid-2000s, when it launched a corporate plan with discounted calling rates. They even provided free calls to every Loop phone number. “After the plan was announced, every possible policeman opted for Loop, as their monthly bill hardly crossed Rs300,” said a police officer.

Then called BPL, Loop took over BPL in 2009 and police said the department continued to enjoy the subsidised rates. But, with the company shutting shop in Mumbai, its poor connectivity is proving to be too much to handle. Police are unable to keep in touch with their informers because of the dwindling mobile network.

No network, no information
A Crime Branch official said, “Whenever I sat in my office, I would never get network; the same thing happened with colleagues as well. When informers try to reach us with any kind of tip-offs, network failure, indirectly, causes us to fail.”

A senior Crime Branch officer told this paper, “I have been facing this network problem for a long time. Whenever any serious crime took place in our jurisdiction, I couldn’t contact my informers to get leads because of my mobile network.

Last week, I was without a phone because there was practically no coverage. I have switched to another service provider now.” Others, however, haven’t been lucky in their efforts. Police have faced severe issues with number portability, the service that allows you to keep your mobile number but switch to another provider.

While porting to another network, a subscriber has to send a message from his current network Loop, in this case to a specific number provided by the network she wishes to leave. However, the number Loop has provided has thrown up issues.

“The number provided by Loop is not functioning properly. I have been looking to port my number for the last few days, but their service is so pathetic that I am having tough time dealing with it,” an officer confessed. Another police officer from the eastern suburbs added, “A fortnight ago, some officials from another mobile network approached us due to which I had to switch off my Loop number.

But later, I found out my previous number couldn’t be ported to a new provider, leaving me without any network to use!” The country’s largest cellular service provider, Bharti Airtel, is in the process of taking over Loop for Rs 700 crore, but the acquisition is mired in regulatory hurdles.

Telecom Regulation Authority of India (Trai) has directed Loop Mobile to inform its customers of the closing date of services so they can opt for another service. The company has sought time till October 31 to comply with this directive. Loop Mobile will shut shop around November.

Company speak
When contacted Surya Mahadevan, COO of Loop Mobile, said, “There are certain ongoing problems which shall be solved at the earliest. But I don’t think there is any problem when it comes to porting numbers.”

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