The continuing battle over sustained call drops between telecom operators and the government seems to be heading into the final lap. While the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) consultation paper on call drops had suggested providing credit to consumers for call drops, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) in its submission has surprisingly stated that compensating consumers will not resolve call drops. That’s a PR disaster in the making, considering the call drops menace for mobile subscribers in the major cities.
While COAI may still be debating the issue, Bharti Airtel has changed the wind in its favour by converting its entire prepaid subscribers to a per-second billing plan. Since 94.4% of Bharti’s 230 million mobile subscribers are prepaid, the question of compensation is restricted to about 13 million postpaid users now. Even there they will be per-second billing customers. For most other operators too, at least 85% of their prepaid subscribers are already on per-second billing. Considering that 96% of India’s 918 million mobile subscribers are already prepaid, putting them all on per-second billing would resolve the compensation issue without any Trai intervention. That leaves 38 million subscribers on postpaid plans across operators—some of whom would be on per-second billing—who would need to be compensated. That can be sorted once call drops meet the Quality of Service (QoS) norms specified—less than 2% of all calls.