Calling for a balance between business growth and consumer interest, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today said he will remain tough on the issue of service quality of telecom companies. Also Read - Government to offer free movies to new internet users in remote areas: ReportAlso Read - Assembled in India: IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad shows locally made Apple iPhone XR
“While I applaud telecom operators for spreading mobile services in the nook and corner of the country, I am equally concerned that quality of service must be maintained. I will do a lot of tough talking to make them understand the problem. Now, they are responding,” Prasad said. Also Read - Indian government considering monitoring internet through a centralized system
He was speaking at the annual general meeting of industry chamber Ficci today. Official data shared in Parliament showed that private telecom operators have installed some 29,000 mobile sites across the country while the state-owned BSNL added 4,144 new sites in April-November 2015. Mobile sites are a vital cog when it comes to quality of calls and other mobile services.
“Lots of initiatives they are taking. I will continue to be tough. That’s an obligation they (telecom operators) have to perform,” Prasad said, in unequivocal terms.
The minister also defended telecom regulator TRAI when a Ficci representative suggested that the “regulator should not be a controller”. The industry recently put up a legal challenge to the norms laid down by TRAI that mandated service providers to compensate users Re 1 for up to three call drops a day.
“If the regulator or the department insists on a particular quality of service, you cannot escape that obligation by pointing finger. If service quality is good, I am the first person to stand with them,” Prasad said.
He threw a rider though: “I agree that regulators must understand that regulation and development must be properly blended.” Ficci former President Y K Modi observed that delivering good quality service is in the business interest of companies and if they don’t abide by it, “competition will take over”.
He added that investors look for quality return at the time of deciding on it. Prasad took it further, saying: “What happens if all of them have poor quality? Whenever I hear this complaint (low returns on investment), which may be legitimate also, I am countered with news reports in pink papers about profit of companies. We have to balance both.”
For good measure, he spoke about revival of the postal department.
“I was very keen to push the postal department in the banking scenario. There was a lot of opposition, but we pushed for it and RBI has given in-principle approval,” Prasad said.