Home >industry >telecom >Can punish telcos for call drops: Trai tells Delhi high court
Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Can punish telcos for call drops: Trai tells Delhi high court

Trai says the decision to consider compensation for call drops has been taken in public interest

New Delhi: The telecom regulator on Wednesday said it had the power to punish telecom operators for poor service quality, after these companies moved court over its October order to compensate customers for every call that ended abruptly due to poor mobile network signal.

In an affidavit filed in the Delhi high court where mobile service providers have challenged its order, the Telecom Regulatory Association of India (Trai) said it is empowered under the TRAI Act, 1997, to lay down the standards of quality and ensure quality of service. The regulator is well within its powers to issue directions or regulations for the said purpose, the affidavit said.

Stressing that call drops have worsened over time to become a pervasive problem, the regulator said compensation for call drops and steps taken by the authority in this regard have been considered in public interest.

TRAI said the problem (call drops) is country-wide, and not restricted to a few cities or pockets. The regulator said it issued the regulations after much deliberation and taking into account the suggestions of all stakeholders.

“Existing measures have not served to reduce the incidence of such call drops; hence the necessity and importance of the impugned regulation—which is not only reasonable but has a clear and rational linkage with the object sought to be achieved i.e. reducing call drops," the affidavit said.

The problem persisted even in those circles where there were sufficient number of mobile towers, Trai said.

Frequent call drops has become a major cause of concern for consumers, policymakers and parliamentarians; thus it is the statutory responsibility of the authority to protect the interests of the consumers of the telecom sector, as per the preamble to the TRAI Act, 1997, the affidavit stated.

According to Trai’s 16 October notification, telcos must credit Re1 to a user for every call drop, subject to a maximum of 3 per day. The telcos challenged this notification on 11 December in the Delhi high court, claiming that additional compensation would cost the companies 54,000 crore a year. The notification was to take effect from 1 January.

Bharti Airtel Ltd, Aircel Ltd, Vodafone India Ltd, Idea Cellular Ltd, Telenor Communications Pvt. Ltd, Videocon Communications, Reliance Telecommunications Ltd and Tata Teleservices Ltd sought a stay on Trai’s compensation policy for call drops.

A bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and justice Jayant Nath will hear the matter on 7 January.

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