Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed serious concern over the call drop menace and directed officials to address it urgently even as the government came down heavily on mobile operators, saying they cannot escape their “responsibility and accountability”. Also Read - TRAI's new SMS regulations will prevent spam, fraudulent messages: Here's howAlso Read - Starlink satellite broadband service faces challenge in India, Elon Musk led company questioned
Reviewing the status of mobile connectivity in the country at a high level meeting, Modi observed that the call drop problem directly affects the common man. Expressing serious concern over the problem, he asked officials as to what was being done to address it and directed them that steps be taken urgently to resolve it. The Prime Minister also asked the officials to ensure that the problems in voice connectivity do not extend to data connectivity in the future, a PMO statement said. Also Read - Airtel gains most mobile subscribers in January 2021 when compared to Jio, Vi: TRAI
Meanwhile, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Whatever the government is required to do, government has done and will do more. But what is required of the telecom operators, must be done by them.” With call drops becoming a cause of concern for the entire country, mobile operators need to rise to the occasion and they cannot escape their “responsibility and accountability”, he said. Prasad said he wants to tell the operators that while the work done by them in the spread of mobile telephony in the country has been appreciated, they have to find solutions including the public sector bodies as to why the whole problem has become rather serious in the last 3-4 months.
“The answer has to be discovered by them. The remedial measures have to be taken by them and response has to come from them,” he said. Asked about Modi’s intervention on the matter, Prasad said if there is a problem, it certainly goes to the Prime Minister. “The Prime Minister conveys his concern and we execute his concerns in a proactive manner.” The problem of call drops has worsened in the recent months. Telecom operators have cited shutting down of mobile towers and radiation fears, as also lack of spectrum, as the major reasons for call drops. Earlier in the day at an event in Greater Noida, Prasad asked mobile operators to optimize the networks and reinforce their systems even as he promised full support on policy front including on installation of towers. “…whatever is necessary for policy, we will do, like installation of mobile towers on government buildings, speaking against radiation fears. So, what is required from the government, we will do. I expect operators should also do what is required to reinforce their system, optimize their networks,” Prasad said.
Telecom operators have said about 7,000-10,000 sites have been locked or shut down across major cities and have sought a uniform national policy for installation of mobile towers. Prasad said the Department of Telecom (DoT) has been very proactive in addressing the issues of telecom companies as it is allowing installation of mobile towers on government buildings and writing to chief ministers to permit use of state buildings. The spectrum sharing guidelines have been approved and trading will be also come shortly. “It is important to understand that the government is proactive as far as facilitation is concerned…I have repeatedly said myself that there are no ill-effects from radiation from towers, WHO has said so,” the minister added.
He said telecom operators need to invest in their infrastructure, optimize their networks, reinforce their frequency and install more towers to check call drops. The Minister also appealed to all the municipal bodies and the state governments also to be a little sensitive in ensuring that BTS tower is integral to good service. Meanwhile, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R S Sharma said that a consultation paper on call drops will be issued in a fortnight wherein all stakeholders can give their comments. Regarding a disincentive mechanism for call drops, Sharma said the regulator is looking at it and TRAI is also examining various tariff plans of the telecom operators. Government had asked TRAI to suggest disincentives for call drops and also examine the tariff plans of operators to ascertain whether they were incentive’s call drops.
The industry has refuted the charge of deliberately promoting call drops. A recent TRAI report found that most of the telecom operators in Delhi and Mumbai were not meeting the prescribed standards regarding call drops.