Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Government, telcos meet this month to find solution to call drops, poor quality of service

Narendra Modi had in September undertaken a comprehensive review of all grievances in the telecom sector

Officials from the department of telecommunications (DoT) will this month meet representatives of all telecom operators to address the issue of poor quality of service and find a solution to the problem of call drops, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said on Friday.

“(Quality of service) is a concern. We are going to meet telcos this month. We have several issues to discuss...such as ‘Fibre First’ initiative and digital readiness," Sundararajan said on the sidelines of an industry event.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in September undertaken a comprehensive review of all grievances in the telecom sector and asked the department to find technological solutions to the problem of call drops amid rising consumer complaints in this regard.

The merger of telcos, lack of investments in 2G and surging data usage were hurting the quality of services, Sundararajan had said then.

After the telecom regulator announced stricter norms for quality of service in August last year, telecom minister Manoj Sinha chaired a review meeting with operators on call drops a month later, which was attended by top executives of operators. This was followed by a meeting in January this year when the department summoned chief executives of top telecom companies to convey the government’s serious concern over the quality of service and discuss norms on monitoring dropped calls that were announced by the telecom regulator last year.

In August last year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) announced stricter norms effective 1 October 2017 to curb dropped calls and put in place a graded penalty clause for erring operators, under which if an operator fails to meet the call drop benchmark in a quarter, it may be liable to a penalty of up to 5 lakh. The penalty on the operator can go up to 10 lakh for failing to meet benchmarks for more than two consecutive quarters.

The regulator has also shifted to a new system of assessing the dropped call rate, which will now be measured at the mobile tower level instead of at the telecom circle level. It expects the revision in norms to remove the anomaly that arises because of averaging of call drop rates of bad performing cells in the network with cells that perform well.

The industry has, however, maintained that quality of service is beyond the absolute control of a telco, as it depends on several extraneous factors such as the number of users accessing the network at a time and the kind of device being used.

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