cell tower

In a notification with the Bombay Stock Exchange, India’s largest telecom operator Airtel has said that it is in preliminary talks with state-run telco BSNL for sharing spectrum through intra circle roaming arrangements.

The company replied to the bourse as it sought a clarification from Airtel regarding a report in the Hindu Business Line which had said that Airtel had sent a letter to BSNL’s chairman expressing interest. The report also added that other operators, including Vodafone and Idea Cellular, are also expected to line up to get a deal with the PSU. From the report:

“Bharti Airtel being one of the largest telecom service providers of India, would like to … partner with your organisation for the said arrangements to address issues pertaining to call drops and for optimum utilisation of allocated spectrum. We sincerely hope that we would be given an equal opportunity to participate in a fair, open and transparent manner”

Earlier this month, it was also reported that BSNL had got a nod from the union cabinet to hive off its tower assets to form a separate company. The towers company was valued at Rs 20,000 crore and BSNL will also need to pay the new company money to rent the towers. BSNL currently claims to have 75,000 towers, out of which around 65,000 will be moved to the new company.

In July, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had asked all telecom operators to submit a report on the action they’re taking to deal with call drops. TRAI’s letter to the telecom companies stated that it was necessary for service providers to ‘undertake a special drive for radio frequency optimisation, analyse the reason of call drops and take appropriate steps’. The TRAI benchmark allows a call drop rate of less than 2%.

In June, Airtel became the number one operator whose call drop complaints (31) flooded the TRAI this year (up to 30 June), followed by Vodafone (17) , Idea Cellular (10) and BSNL (10). This was the response given by Telecom minister RS Prasad to the Lok Sabha.