Cellphone Tower - The TeCake

Call dropping issue could cost much to telcos, as TRAI orders the telecom operators to pay a compensation to the consumers for each and every call drop. According to the orders, the mobile phone users will get Re. 1 for each call drop, starting from January 1. However, the authority has limited it to a maximum of three dropped calls in a day. Also, the compensation will be provided only if the call is dropped due to problem in calling party’s network, not because of the receiver, on the other side.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Secretary, Sudhir Gupta has said that the telecom operators, from whose network call is originated will have to pay penalty to the user if call drops due to the network. But the compensation will be added to consumers balance only if the call drop happened due to the calling party’s network.

Rajya Sabha MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar has also appreciated the move and said, “For all these years, policies and regulations were in favour of telecom companies and there was little or no attention paid to the interests of consumers.”

While the question here arises on the feasibility of the order of its execution under their telecom licences rules, experts feel the rule will not benefit customers in a big way. “The monetary benefits to consumers from the regulation may not be huge; but implementing it will be a challenge. Moreover, despite the heavy operator investments on acquiring spectrum, insufficient tower infrastructure to cater to the ever rising demand is leading to poor quality of service and call drops,” Ernst & Young India Global Telecommunications Leader Prashant Singhal said.

An NGO, Telecom Watchdog, stated that the issue is seemed to be in favour of customers while it has been decided in favour of the operators, not the consumers, as is being made out. The NGO Secretary, Anil Kumar further said that it will be very difficult to figure it out that whether the fault is from caller’s side or from the receiver’s side and “practically consumers will not get any compensation. Over one year period, such compensation will not be more than Rs 10 crore across India for one operator”.

Industry body Cellular Operators Association of India, however, estimates that even half of subscriber base in the country reports this problem then outflow for industry will be to the tune of Rs 150 crore per day.

COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews called it ‘diversion’ from real issues that are responsible for call drops shows his disappointment on the regulation. “How can you expect to resolve the call drop problem with local authorities sealing mobile towers? Nearly 350 towers have been sealed in Delhi in the last three weeks and 100 in Mumbai in the last 4-5 months,” he asked.

He also said licence conditions do not mandate operators to provide 100 per cent coverage and also inside buildings. “Even the licence doesn’t require me to provide 100 percent coverage so if call drops happen on the uncovered areas. Why should I be penalised? Why should an operator compensate if call drop happens inside building?” he added.

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