A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi voiced concerns over growing call drops menace, the telecommunications ministry has warned telcos of penal action if they did not upgrade their network.
“The telecom companies should now think of taking the call drops issue very seriously. If they don’t strengthen their networks, there are options before the government. They could be penalised up to Rs 50 crore. We have kept all the options open,” a top ministry official said.
The telecom secretary has been directed to personally take up the issue with the heads of the telecom companies. This include founder chairman and group CEO of Bharti Enterprises, Sunil Bharti Mittal for Bharti Airtel, and Aditya Birla, group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla on behalf of Idea Cellular, amongst others.
The top ministry official pointed out that telcos are not investing in changes in the new spectrum allocated to them after renewal of their licences.
“They need to realign their new spectrum and make changes in their networks and BTS towers accordingly. Why have call drops escalated in four-five months? The radiation and towers issues have been there for past year few years… I hope telcos would be able to fix the problem in next one-and-a-half months,” the official explained, after holding a high-level meeting of the officials of the department of telecommunications (DoT)on Wednesday.
He said what telcos are now doing is not investing in changing networks, and instead either adding more subscribers and diverting a larger chunk of the bandwidth of airwaves for data. “Voice is equally important as data,” he pointed out.