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The Department of Telecom has suggested to TRAI that telecom operators could provide free minutes in talk time to consumers whose calls drop, reports ET. The DoT also said that it has asked TRAI to build a ‘disincentive’ mechanism in order to reduce the number of call drops that consumers face. In case telcos did not adhere to TRAI’s service quality benchmark, they should be levied with a penalty, the department added.

TRAI monitored call drops with its devices
In April, the TOI had reported that TRAI was working on a set of service quality benchmarks which included call drops, billing, complaint redressal time and time taken to attend customer calls, in order to take stricter action against telcos who did not follow it. A Trak report mentioned that the TRAI had carried out a 3 month pilot to test call drops and had also gotten hold of new devices which would monitor call drops across all telcos in the country.

Mobile towers do not cause radiation: Prasad
The ET report said that telcos were stating scarcity of spectrum as well as blocks in the mobile tower installations in residential areas due to radiation problems as reasons for call drops. Another ET report quoted Union minister for telecom Ravi Shankar Prasad as saying that cellular towers did not pose a threat to residents nearby due to lack of evidence and therefore telcos could not use that as an excuse for not installing new towers. In February, Prasad had said that lack of spectrum was not an excuse for call drops. He had also mentioned then that there was a need for better monitoring the entire system to address the call drop problem.

Spectrum concluded at 36.86% more than government’s reserve price
Earlier this year, the 2015 spectrum auction concluded after 19 days and 115 rounds of bidding. Total value of bids at the end of Day 19, which saw 5 new rounds of bidding, was Rs 1,09,874 crore. This was 36.86% higher than than the Rs 80,277 crore the government had targeted from the auctions, based on the reserve price set by it. The premium paid by telcos over the reserve price was likely to lead to an increase in tariff.

Vodafone, Airtel, Idea dominate Indian market
India’s top 3 telecom providers Vodafone, Airtel and Idea Cellular added 5.96 million connections in 2010. The top 3 telecom operators together account for 64% of active connections and 58% of total connections in India. Their growth was outpacing the rest, as, together, they accounted for more active connections during the month (187%) than all the telecom operators combined while some of the rest (Loop, BSNL and RCOM) lost connections.

Our take: Every mobile phone user in India knows the pain of call drops. Not just that, intermittent signal issues also lead to incomplete and incoherent conversations where one party is always left asking “what did you say?”. With growing mobile phone penetration, if telco service does not up its game by continuing current practices, consumers will likely to switch to lesser known alternatives which might be expensive but provide better service in terms of calls.

Also Read:

India’s 2015 Spectrum Auction Results: Which Telco Won What

India’s 2015 Spectrum Auction Results: What The Telecom Operators Are Saying