Info-tech

Modi wants call drops to be fixed fast

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

drop

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad puts onus on telcos

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday directed officials to initiate urgent steps to resolve the problem of call drops.

“The Prime Minister expressed serious concern over the issue of ‘call drops’ and asked officials what steps were being taken to address this problem, which, he said, directly affects the common man. He directed that steps be taken urgently to resolve the problem, and to ensure that problems in voice connectivity do not extend to data connectivity in the future,” said an official statement issued here after Modi reviewed the performance of infrastructure sectors.

The Prime Minister, who was also apprised of the status of mobile connectivity across the country, directed officials to explore the possibility of leveraging existing resources, including Railway and other communication infrastructure, to provide connectivity in remote and unconnected areas.

He said the targets for digital infrastructure should be synchronised with those of the Digital India initiative. 

‘National problem’

Later, addressing reporters, Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government was proactive and now telecom service providers should also take the matter seriously. Terming call drops a “national problem”, he said: “While we appreciate the work done by the telecom industry in mobile telephony, they have to find solutions, including public sector bodies, as to why the whole problem has become serious over the past three-four months. The answer has to be discovered by them…remedial measures have to be taken by them. The response has to come from them.”

Consultation paper

Modi’s remarks on call drops come at a time when telecom regulator TRAI is examining whether mobile operators are minting money by inducing calls to drop midway. It also plans to release a consultation paper to devise a broader mechanism addressing the problem.

This follows a direction from the Department of Telecom to TRAI to suggest a disincentive mechanism for call drops and also examine the tariff plans of operators to ascertain whether they gain from call drops.

The industry has refuted charges of deliberate call drops and has instead blamed it on lack of mobile towers and spectrum. Bharti Airtel’s MD and CEO (India and South Asia) Gopal Vittal recently said that about 95 per cent of the company’s plans are seconds-based, meaning, it does not earn anything if a call is dropped.

However, Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg said certain plans under which customers get some free minutes and the billing is minute-based, need to be examined.

TRAI report

A recent TRAI report found that most telecom operators in Delhi and Mumbai were not complying with the prescribed standards on call drops.

The industry is demanding a uniform national policy for towers to tackle the problem, adding that about 7,000-10,000 sites are locked or shut down in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Patna and Jaipur due to various reasons, including sealing orders by local bodies without prior notice.

Published on August 25, 2015

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