New Delhi: Only 7 out of the 129 local level cellular networks meet the telecom regulator’s benchmark of having at least 95% of their customers satisfied with their services, according to a three-month survey conducted by the international audit firm TUV Sud on behalf of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). Approval levels ranged from just 69% customers satisfied with Hutchison Essar in Punjab to 99% satisfied with BPL Mobile in Mumbai.
The survey, which interviewed more than 45,000 cellular subscribers across the country, was commissioned by Trai to assess the customers’ perception of the quality of service. It also found that 80% of the subscribers found their bills very difficult to understand or did not understand it at all.
The seven networks that had required satifaction levels included: Bharti Airtel’s Mumbai circle (98% satisfaction level), Hutchison Essar’s Andhra Pradesh network (96% approval rating) and the Mumbai networks of Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices, both of which had 95% approval ratings.
Geographically, the most satisfied cellular customers were from Mumbai, with an average approval rating of 95% for the six operators there, while the subscribers in the North East were the most dissatisfied of the lot, giving an average approval rating of just 77% for the four operators there. The North East was followed by Orissa and Punjab, where the average approval rating for all the operators remained at 79%.
Among the major operators, Idea Cellular scored the highest with scores ranging between 83% and 93% for the eight circles on which it was assessed. Spice Telecom, which was assessed on its two circles Karnataka and Punjab, fared the worst with approval ratings of just 72% and 83%.
“There is a problem with the networks,” says Sheriar Irani, head of research and telecom analyst, Mumbai-based broking firm ASK Raymond James. “You can either look at it as lack of spectrum, or you can look at it as the resources of the companies getting stretched due to the requirements of rapid network expansion all over. You have to either put in a lot of capital expenditure or expand the spectrum,” he points out, adding that the introduction of third generation (3G) networks in the coming months is likely to improve the quality of service.
The survey also found that only 1.6% of the cellular subscribers understood their bills clearly while 97% of them found their tariff plans either “somewhat difficult” or “very difficult” to understand or did not understand them at all.
The study, which also checked the responsiveness of the held desks set up by the operators, found that 54% of the circle-level operators did not answer helpline calls within 60 seconds, as required by the Trai while 40% did not answer it even after 90 seconds of making the call.