New Delhi: Telecom regulator TRAI on Friday issued stringent guidelines to curb call drops along with a penalty of upto Rs10 lakh on service providers if they fail to meet the benchmark for three consecutive quarters. “We have proposed financial disincentive in the range of Rs1-5 lakh. It is a graded penalty system depending on the performance of a network," TRAI chairman RS Sharma told reporters here.

TRAI Secretary (acting) SK Gupta said if an operator fails to meet call drop benchmark in consecutive quarter, the penalty amount will be increased 1.5 times and in the third consecutive month it will be doubled. “However, there is a cap of Rs10 lakh on financial disincentive," Gupta said. Under the previous Quality of Service Rule, penalty on call drop was Rs50,000 per violation.

After the revision, the regulator has made measurement of call drop rate more granular from circle level to mobile towers in a circle. “There have been some issues in measurement of call drop. Averages hide a lot of things. Under new rules, we are taking into account temporary issues that may be there in the network as well as geographical spread of the network," Sharma said.

Under the revised rule, 90% of base transceiver station or mobile site in a telecom circle 90% of time should not fail to handle 98% of the call, which means not more than 2% calls handled by them should drop. In worst affected case or busy hour of the day, not more than 3% of call drop should be registered on 90% of mobile towers in a telecom circle.

The regulator also fixed benchmark for radio-link time out technology(RLT) - allegedly used by telecom operators for masking call drop. RLT is used for continuation of a call in case a subscriber is moving or is in base network area for short period. It is the time used for connecting call of a subscriber from one mobile tower to another.