Mobile operators have committed to invest about Rs 12,000 crore to install about 60,000 towers to check call drops in India, telecom secretary J S Deepak said on Friday, but appeared dismissive of penal powers to regulator TRAI saying it cannot be “one and final solution” to this menace. To check call drops, TRAI has demanded more teeth, including for imposing fine of up to Rs 10 crore on operators and jail term of up to two years for their executives, prompting the companies to term such powers as ‘draconian’. Also Read - Airtel 5G Mumbai trials show download speeds of 1.2Gbps, upload at 850MbpsAlso Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAI
Responding to TRAI’s demand, Deepak said, “Business as usual cannot happen. I am not sure penal power will be one and final solution to this. In my personal opinion I do not agree that for every call drop a person has to be sent to jail. That’s my personal view. It is more sophisticated and more difficult. But we will take a view on what TRAI has said.” The secretary said that mobile operators have committed to install 60,000 towers to improve service quality.
“Government believes in the telecom sector. The quality of service must improve and industry has responsibility. They have committed 60,000 towers. Each tower cost about Rs 20 lakh which is around Rs 12,000 crore. The industry will make this investment in next three months,” Deepak told reporters after his first industry review meeting.
Each operator presented his 100-day plan for improving service quality and raised issues hampering improvement in the networks. Most of the mobile service providers have frequently failed in quarterly sample call drop tests conducted by TRAI but telecom operators have contested the results saying that they comply with benchmark set by the regulator. To check the call drop menace, TRAI had earlier directed operators to compensate their subscribers for dropped calls.
The order, however, quashed by the Supreme Court of India. After analysing the apex court order, TRAI has proposed amendments in laws to allow it to impose penalty of up to Rs 10 crore on mobile operators and jail term of up to two years on their executives for any violation of regulatory framework.