With PM Narendra Modi saying that customers “irritated” with call drops would end up “cursing” his government, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has asked the national regulator to find out from cellular operators the number of customers they have in each circle, and whether they can provide services effectively with their existing infrastructure.
“Consumers are deeply distressed. The Minister has spoken to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman to issue guidelines that make it mandatory for telecom companies to disclose such information. This will enable them to choose the best operator,” said a government source.
The Prime Minister had referred to the issue of call drops during a recent discussion with secretaries of the infrastructure sector, including Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg, under the ‘Pragati’ (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) initiative launched in March.
When contacted, Ravi Shankar Prasad told The Indian Express: “Companies need to invest to reinforce their infrastructure. They need to optimise and sychronise their networks. Recently acquired spectrum cannot be saved for the future. And they cannot concentrate on data services alone. Voice is equally important.”
Prasad said he hoped operators would respond positively. “Else, other options will be explored,” he said.
Sources in TRAI said the regulator was analysing the extent of the problem and possible solutions. “We will also study the services that can be sustained by the current infrastructure of telecom operators,” a source said.
TRAI chairman R S Sharma said, “Call drops cannot be more than 2 per cent. While data on quality of service shows telecom operators’ performance within the limits, it is true that such data hides a lot of things. Importantly, frequent call drops leave the consumer completely dissatisfied.”