‘Call drops will hit financial inclusion’

| Updated on: Aug 24, 2015
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SBI chief says this speaks poorly of the country’s commercial capital

State Bank of India Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya on Monday joined the debate on frequent call drops, citing a personal experience of not being able to get seamless connectivity while driving along Marine Drive, and warned that bad networks are detrimental to the agenda of financial inclusion.

“Today, even a drive from my office to my house, which is along the Marine Drive, I have identified at least five places where the calls drop,” Bhattacharya said while addressing the annual FIBAC summit of bankers here.

Though on a lighter note, she said that it’s good to have 20 minutes of peace while being driven from the bank headquarters in the Nariman Point central business district to her official residence at the tony Malabar Hill area which is less than six km away. Bhattacharya said such call drops in the heart of the nation’s financial capital reflect poorly on the country as a whole.

“It doesn’t say much for the country. In a place like Mumbai, and that too on Marine Drive, if you aren’t able to get calls, this is not good,” she said, adding that such coverage by the telecom companies might hinder the ambitious financial inclusion plans.

“This is an area which is very important and unless we are going to get connectivity across the country at a much better bandwidth, it is going to be very difficult to push this agenda (of financial inclusion and digital banking) and take it really forward,” she said.

She added that many times it is the lack of access that makes people not use a banking account and we need to collectively look into this aspect.

It may be noted that for many months now, the government and telcos have been duelling over the rising incidence of call drops. The menace assumed importance after the government got an audit done on telcos to ascertain the facts

On August 16, the Department of Telecommunications asked telcos to file weekly updates on call drops. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has found a two-fold jump in call drops on 2G networks and 65 per cent on 3G over a one-year period.

Published on January 23, 2018

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