Get your act together and stop giving excuses for call drops: DoT to telcos

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said spectrum scarcity can no longer be cited as reason given ongoing consolidation in industry

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan

Press Trust of India New Delhi
In a stern message to telecom operators, DoT on Thursday said the industry can't give excuses like problems in installing mobile towers for rise in call drops and asked them to get their act together to tackle the issue.

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan told PTI in an interview that the Department of Telecom (DoT) will meet the industry on the call drop issue as soon as Trai's assessment report comes out on quality of mobile services, benchmarked to the new call drop parameters.

"The government is very concerned about call drop (and service) quality. We want to convey to the industry that the situation can't continue and they have to take corrective steps at the earliest," Sundararajan said, adding that the meeting with industry would take place after January 21.

Acknowledging that mobile operators do face difficulty in setting up towers at times, given resistance from people, she said that it cannot be cited as an excuse for call drops.

She asserted that investments will have to made by telecom companies in upgrading infrastructure.

The industry, on the other hand, has been citing radiation emission scare and delay in permissions as hurdles in setting up mobile towers.

DoT has also taken up the issue around rolling-out of telecom infrastructure in states, she said, adding that"the industry has to get its act together. They have to earmark more investments into infrastructure".

Terming telecom infrastructure as a "fundamental enabler", Sundararajan said that the matter will be taken up with states.

She said spectrum scarcity can no longer be cited as a reason for call drops given ongoing consolidation in the industry.

Trai's new and more stringent call drop rules came into force from October 1and the quarter ended December will see the first instance of reporting under the new formula.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has already asked the operators to submit their network-related data for checking service quality under the new benchmarks and the deadline is January 21.

"They (industry) have to put more investments into infrastructure. If they say that data is growing five times, then you have to upgrade the infrastructure. Also, for operations and maintenance, there is tremendous scope for improvement," she noted.

As per the new rules, the telecom operators may face a maximum penalty of Rs 10,00,000 for call drops which will now be measured at mobile tower level instead of the telecom circle level.

Over the last two years, mobile service quality has remained a burning issue, irking consumers. In 2016, the regulator had even ordered operators to compensate users for call drops (Re 1 for each call dropped) but the missive was struck down by the Supreme Court.

The DoT had, in a series of meeting over the last few quarters, asked telecom firms to adopt immediate measures to improve call quality including setting-up additional mobile towers across the country.

As per estimates, 6,35,000 mobile sites (Base Transceiver Stations) have been added on an aggregate basis for 2G/3G/4G services from July 2015 to November 2017.

First Published: Jan 18 2018 | 8:53 PM IST

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