Trai to Examine if Call Drops Are Actually Benefiting Telcos
“We are coming out with a consultation paper on call drops. We will consult all the stakeholders on the various facets of call drops,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Chairman R S Sharma told PTI.
The regulator is also examining whether there are any tariff plans of the service providers wherein call drops actually incentivise or benefit the companies, he added.
“We have called for the information from the companies,” Sharma said.
This follows a direction from the Department of Telecom to Trai to suggest a disincentive mechanism for call drops and also examine the tariff plans of operators to ascertain whether they incentivise call drops.
(Also see: Hello, Anyone There? Your 10-Point Guide to the ‘Call-Drop’ Surge)
The industry has refuted charges of deliberate call drops and the companies have instead put the blame on lack of mobile towers and spectrum for the problem.
Bharti Airtel (India and South Asia) Gopal Vittal had recently said that about 95 percent plans are second-based, so they don’t earn anything if a call gets dropped.
However, Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg said there are certain plans wherein customers get some free minutes and the billing is minute-based, which need to be examined.
Hitting out at telecom operators for lack of investment in networks leading to call drops, the government said they can not escape the responsibility of meeting standards as it is their basic service obligation.
Rejecting the reasons given by the operators, such as shutting down of towers and radiation fears, the government has said all these factors existed earlier too but the problem has worsened in the last seven months.
Garg said if expenditure on spectrum is set aside, operators have invested only about 13 percent of their revenue into infrastructure.
A recent Trai report found that most of telecom operators in Delhi and Mumbai were not meeting the prescribed standards regarding call drops.
The industry is demanding a uniform national policy for towers to tackle the problem.
The operators said that about 7,000 – 10,000 sites are locked or shut down across major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Patna, and Jaipur due to various reasons, including sealing orders by local bodies without prior notice.