Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Jio asked to improve service quality as call drops complaints rise

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Published: December 1, 2019 1:01:47 AM

Apart from Reliance Jio, which only provides 4G services, and offers voice over LTE (VoLTE), incumbent telcos like Airtel and Vodafone Idea still have a vast proportion of 2G users who only use voice.

Asked about to comment on the issue by FE, all three refused to speak, but sources indicated that they have assured the secretary of better services.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked all mobile operators to improve quality of services as there have been rising complaints around call drops. Chief executives of all mobile firms were also summoned by the government to provide details of steps taken to address the issue.

As per sources, Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal, Vodafone Idea CEO Ravinder Takkar and Reliance Jio director and board member Mahendra Nahata met telecom secretary Anshu Prakash Friday to update the government about the steps taken to improve quality of services.

Asked about to comment on the issue by FE, all three refused to speak, but sources indicated that they have assured the secretary of better services. Quality has worsened recently in many parts of the country, as operators are utilising most of the spectrum to offer data while less emphasis is given to voice.

Apart from Reliance Jio, which only provides 4G services, and offers voice over LTE (VoLTE), incumbent telcos like Airtel and Vodafone Idea still have a vast proportion of 2G users who only use voice.

Another problem, at least in metro cities, is shutting down of mobile towers, mainly due to issues around payment terms with municipal authorities and also health concerns raised by various resident welfare associations (RWAs). This further adds to the woes of telecom operators. Beside, there is too much congestion in telecom networks in metro cities.

It must be mentioned that Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) came out with revised methodology to track quality of services or call drops in October 2017 and had asked operators to abide by the new benchmarks. Since then, call drops are being measured at mobile tower level instead of telecom circle level. The new rules come with a provision of penalising operators in the range of Rs 1-5 lakh in a graded penalty system, with stringent fines for repeat violations. However, there is a cap of Rs 10 lakh on the penalty imposed. The new rules make is easier for authorities to monitor the quality of service in a particular area.

On its part, DoT has allowed sharing of in-building network infrastructure among telecom operators at public places, which is likely to reduce call drops and also increase speed of mobile data.

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