New Delhi: Indian telecom companies have committed to invest an additional Rs20,000 crore over the next one year to install as many as 100,000 new towers to curb call drops, PTI reported, citing a top telecom ministry official.

This is in addition to the 12,000 crore already committed to the government under a 100-day action plan that aims to erect 60,000 towers. As many as 48,000 towers have already been installed, telecom minister Manoj Sinha said after a meeting with top executives of telecom companies.

“Telcos have assured that the target for the 100 days programme as committed to the secretary will be met. There will be an addition of around 60,000 towers in 100 days across the country, out of which 48,000 have been installed in the last 45 days," a telecom department statement said.

Sinha said that the progress in the action plan has been satisfactory and the telcos have committed more funds to resolve the issue of dropped calls.

“The government will continue to monitor the situation till customers are satisfied," he added.

Sinha said that the telecom department has also taken into account the difficulties faced by telecom companies and it will address most of them over the next 2-3 months.

“The forthcoming spectrum auction in September would solve the problem of spectrum shortage in the country as 2300 MHz of spectrum is likely to be made available," the minister said in the statement.

Telecom executives informed the government about the issues facing the sector, including high taxes, and requested a review of the interest rate charged on deferred payments for the upcoming auction.

Monday’s meeting was attended by top telecom executives including Gopal Vittal, chief executive (India and South Asia) of Bharti Airtel Ltd; Sunil Sood, chief executive of Vodafone India Ltd; and Himanshu Kapania, managing director of Idea Cellular Ltd.

A need for sharing of active tower infrastructure at a larger scale was also cited by the minister in the meeting. Sinha emphasized on the use of a modern approach like GIS (geographic information systems) for network planning, automatic frequency tuning tools, drive test checks to solve the quality of services issues.

The department is likely to announce its decision on spectrum usage charge after considering the telecom regulator’s recommendation on levying an ad valorem flat rate instead of weighted average formula and views of other stakeholders.

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