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#AppReview: smartbro Range tracks call drops on your phone

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Smartbro Range, developed by Optinno Mobitech is a call drop management app that notifies and records all call drop instances occurring on a smartphone. It also alerts a user (on the dialing screen) if there is a risk of call drop due to low signal strength, or low battery backup.

Users can track the number of call drops using smartbro Range; it calculates a ‘call drop percentage’ i.e. number of dropped calls divided by the total incoming & outgoing calls in a network. According to Sagar Bedmutha, CEO of Optinno Mobitech, this data helps track quality of service offered by an operator and more importantly, it helps establish the ‘Dropped Call Rate’ within a smartphone. The app is currently available for Android users only. Bedmutha told us that iOS and Windows Phone have certain constraints on application permissions, so it won’t be available on these platforms anytime soon.

Why do we need such an app?

The TRAI permitted a ‘Dropped Call Rate’ of less than or equal to 2% in India, and after conducting Independent Drive Tests (IDTs) across 7 cities in February, the regulator found that Dropped Call Rate was well above 2% (in all 7 cities) with Pune recording a whopping 36% (Tata 3G), and 17% (Airtel 3G). Telcos and telecom associations refuted TRAI’s tests with their own independent audit findings.

“There is no solution to this…at first telcos argued that less number of towers and spectrum shortage were the reason behind call drops, and now after TRAI released their findings, the telcos argue that the reports aren’t reliable and that their call drop rate are less than 2%,” said Bedmutha while talking to MediaNama.

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He maintains that even if the TRAI succeeds in convincing the Supreme Court to compensate users, call drops are indeed a real and widespread issue; it could take many months before the telcos could upgrade the infrastructure and resolve the issue satisfactorily. This was one of the primary reasons behind the app’s development, as it acts as a tool to measure and record call drops at the consumer level.

A tool for raising complaints: As the government and telcos struggle to reach a resolution, the common consumers of telecom services in India are subjected to poor quality of service. Bedmutha mentions that smartbro Range app will soon add a mechanism to export the ‘Dropped Call Rate’ data. Using that data, a user can raise complaints with their service provider or the concerned authority.

How the app works

Bedmutha explains that the app works using one of Optinno’s algorithm, which he has submitted for a patent approval. He claims that the algorithm uses a set of parameters to calculate the risk of call drops in real time. Some of these include: network strength, phone hardware, battery level, RAM utilization, if the phone user moving/traveling, etc.

Although there are many factors that could contribute to a dropped call, it is almost impossible to understand the reason behind a dropped call, which might occur due to both operator inefficiencies or a smartphone hardware/software malfunction. However, Bedmutha rules out that a ‘cheap smartphones’ could contribute to call drops. A study conducted by Red Mango states that one of the major reason contributing to call drops are low range smartphones. Bedmutha dismisses the Red Mango findings stating that low cost handsets have been in the market for a long time and that it only affects ‘call quality’ but does not contribute to call drops.

Review: When we tried the app, (the phone had an Airtel SIM) it picked up two instances of a call drop (both the same day) while in Bangalore and Coimbatore city limits. The call drop rate was found to be below 2% according to the the app, after we tested it for a week. At least 10 calls on average were made using the test phone everyday, taking the total to around 70 calls in a week.

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MediaNama’s Take: The app is currently limited to two function—alerting users on a risk of a call drop, and calculating the call drop percentage in a smartphone. Probably smartbro Range can add a mechanism to calculate how much credit balance a user has lost due to a call drop by understanding the billing method of the user—minutes or seconds. TRAI’s order of Re 1 for every call drop were opposed by telcos and perhaps the smartbro Range app could bring is some clarity regarding a satisfactory compensation for poor quality service.

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