Reliance Communications said it has disconnected from its network a mobile phone joint venture between UAE’s Etisalat and India’s DB Group over non-payment of fees for using its towers.
The joint venture, Etisalat DB, said separately that it has been facing network disruption across India since last Friday due to a technical issue beyond its control. It did not mention any dispute with Reliance Communications.
Under a 10-year deal signed in 2009, which the companies had said was worth about $2 billion, Etisalat DB uses Reliance’s base stations to provide services in 15 zones in India.
“Despite repeated reminders, payments have been inordinately delayed by EDB (Etisalat DB) without any reasonable cause, leading to the disconnection of services,” a Reliance Communications spokesman said in a statement.
Etisalat DB issued a statement apologising to its customers for “a temporary mobile service disruption”, adding that it was working around-the-clock to resolve the issue.
Etisalat in Abu Dhabi was not immediately available for comment.
Etisalat DB, which had 1.67 million subscribers as of December, is ranked 14th among India’s 15 mobile operators.
Etisalat DB and top executives of the DB Group are among several companies and more than dozen people charged by police in a massive telecoms licensing scandal over the alleged below-market-price sale of telecom permits in 2008.
All the accused have denied any wrongdoing. Etisalat has said the events described in the charges pre-date its entry into India.