The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued show-cause notices to some carriers over call drops and inability to meet new norms on quality of service rules in some circles, reported the Economic Times. The telcos have time until March 21 to present their side of the case.

As per the new rules, which came into force on October 1, 2017, operators will pay up to Rs 5 lakh in fines if they fail to meet TRAI’s new call drop benchmark.  In case the operator defaults in meeting the benchmarks for two quarters consecutively, the fine amount will be increased by 1.5x times, and 2x times for more than 2 quarters.

“The January to March data is also expected to come next month, and this time, the financial disincentives could increase if one operator does not meet the benchmarks in two circles and defaults consecutively,” TRAI chairman R S Sharma told the paper.

Stricter rules

The new rules have revised the method for calculating call drops. In it, Dropped Call Rate is calculated on a percentile basis instead of the old methodology which calculated only the average of all call drops in a service area. It includes performance measures at a cell or BTS level, instead of service area level. The new metric helps “to highlight the specific areas and specific days when network performance was excellent or poor,” as per the TRAI.

Recently, industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said the new rules were very stringent and implementing them would require major changes in systems. It also said that the problem was greater in data-based networks such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE) than in 2G and 3G technology services. While COAI opines against penalties and disincentives, TRAI seems to be pushing for strict implementation.

The issue of call drops has been in focus in the past years, as the quality of service has fallen. In 2015, TRAI even said that telcos must pay consumers Re 1 in case of call drops, however, the order was struck down by the Supreme Court. Big players Jio and Airtel have now pledged to invest Rs 74,000 crore to expand infrastructure and prevent call drops.