Indian mobile subscribers have been plagued by recurrent call drops. The reasons attributed to this include lack of adequate spectrum, not enough telecom towers, lack of contiguous spectrum, limited investment by operators.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has given the go-ahead for spectrum sharing. What it means is that an operator can share spectrum in a band with another operator in the same circle, provided both operators have liberalised spectrum (acquired through an auction) in the same band.
However, the shared spectrum should not exceed 50% of the spectrum in that band and should also be less than 25% of the total spectrum in the circle.
Thus, there is little scope for sharing, at least among the big operators, unless the government takes a re-look at the caps. Another reason for call drops is that after spectrum auctions over the past two years, the bands and alignment too have changed. So, it will be awhile before the quality improves.
The quality of service depends to a large extent on the equipment deployed and the investment in the networks. In Mumbai, Tata and Airtel have the best network while in Delhi it is Idea and Aircel.
The spectrum challenge
The spectrum that operators have has changed. Yet, in many cases they do not have contiguous spectrum needed for high quality services. The three large operators-Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular have the most spectrum but cannot share it due to spectrum caps.