Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday assured telecom operators they would not be hampered by a shortage of spectrum in their efforts to provide customers better service. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s rule mandating mobile operators to compensate customers for call drops.
In an interview with FE, Prasad complimented operators for doing a great job of providing mobile services to every nook and corner of the country asking them to make more investments to be able to keep up the quality of the networks.
To a specific query on whether the government would do anything to either tighten the quality of service norms or amend the Trai Act, he said the regulation has been brought in by Trai. “The government had no role in it and it is for Trai to decide what it wants to do or can do. On my part, I have created an enabling environment and see no reason why the operators can’t provide good service,” Prasad said.
Prasad added it was in telcos’ interests to make Digital India a strong brand and to provide flawless service. “I have done everything on the policy front and the operators have no alibi left. I know their ability and potential. They need to do it,” Prasad said.
FIXING CALL-DROP PROBLEM
To mobile operators on quality of service
“I have done everything on the policy front. Now they have no alibi left. I know their ability and potential. They can do it. They need to do it”
On SC striking down the call drop regulation
“The regulation was brought by the Trai. The government had no role in it. It is for the Trai to see what it wants to do or can do. On my part, I have created an enabling environment and see no reason why the operators can’t provide good services”
On spectrum availability
“With more 3G spectrum freed up, trading and sharing allowed and harmonisation, telcos will get greater spectral efficency”
Elaborating on the policy measures, the minister recounted spectrum sharing, trading, liberalisation and harmonisation, apart from infrastructure sharing both active and passive.
The department of telecommunications move asking the operators to harmonise their 1800 MHz spectrum by June 15, Prasad said, would provide them with sufficient spectrum. “At the last auction maximum spectrum was made available and in the upcoming one too it will be provided so there can be no excuse of a shortage of spectrum,” the minister said.
Prasad said there were credible estimates that in the coming five years the digital economy would be worth $1 trillion. “Digital delivery is an important component of Digital India. JAM also ends with M — mobile. The Prime Minister has said he wants governance on the palm of every Indian. Therefore, the role of the mobile operators is very critical and they also have a good business case. I repeat, that I am the minister for telecom growth but am also the minister for consumers of telecom services,” Prasad said summing the challenges before him, the economy and operators.
On Wednesday, while striking down the call drop regulation, the SC had termed it as “ultra vires, arbitrary, unreasonable and non-transparent” on the grounds that it was meant to penalise service providers for not meeting the quality of service norms but did not lay down what these norms were. In fact, the norms in force allows failure of calls up to 2% and the operators were well within it. It also said that the process adopted for levying the penalty was not transparent in the sense that while a consultative process was adopted the final regulation did not explain why the operators were wrong in their explanation that they were not at fault.