At the 42nd annual general meeting (AGM), Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani announced the launch of the much-awaited Reliance Jio. The commercial launch is slated for September 5, and new customers will get unlimited usage till the end of this year. Ambani also revealed the Jio tariff plans, with prices starting from Rs 50 for 1GB of data. Reliance Industries asked incumbent telecom service providers to provide adequate interconnect points in their network to ensure calls from Jio subscribers go through to their users, and said it will begin reporting operator-wise call failures on its website.
The Department of Telecom is in favor of giving more penal power to telecom regulator TRAI that will enable the sectoral watchdog to impose fine on telecom operators for poor services including call drops. "The DoT is in favor of giving more penal power to TRAI. The proposal has been submitted to Telecom Minister who has to take call on it," an official source told PTI. However, the Department did not favor up to two year imprisonment power sought by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for violating its order.
Telecom regulator has launched a new portal that allows mobile users to check the level of call drops, network coverage and call quality of telecom operators across India. "It is a transparency portal where consumers will get information on all parameters of quality of service (QoS) including call drops, coverage or call quality," TRAI Chairman R S Sharma said at the launch of the portal. "The information will be available in different granuality ... Overall, at an aggregate level and even down to the tower level. Consumers, in a particular location, can see the number of towers around the area, see the call drop rate, and what is the performance of individual service providers on different parameters in that area," he further added.
Call drops is no doubt a menace, and regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is set to tighten the noose around telecom companies. TRAI has proposed stricter quality norms for local areas, as well as imposing financial penalties for poor services. The current policies only take into account the quality at service area level (averaging the performance of the entire service area as a whole), but TRAI feels such a calculation may give a "different picture" about the quality of customer experience.
There will be positive results in the next 3-4 months in addressing the problem of call drops, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha told the Lok Sabha Wednesday, while expressing commitment to get rid of the "black spot". Sinha said he had a meeting with telecom operators two days ago where several instructions have been given to improve the situation on call drops front. "We will resolve the problem of call drops. In next 3-4 months we will see some positive results. ...Ye kaala dhabba hum mita kar hi rahenge (We will certainly remove this black spot)," he said during Question Hour.
Aimed at curbing call drops, 48,000 new telecom sites have been set up across the country by various operators as part of a 100-day plan which they committed to the government earlier. "They assured that the target for the 100-day program, as committed to the (telecom) secretary, will be met. They indicated that from the beginning of June 10 (when the 100-day program started), there will be addition of around 60,000 BTS (base transceiver station) in 100 days across the country, out of which 48,000 has been installed in the first 45 days," Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Communications (Independent Charge).
Indian telecom regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said it is likely to start evaluating options to make call drop benchmark rate more strict. TRAI has proposed consultation paper for stricter call drop benchmark of less than the current rate of two percent. TRAI said it will likely seek comments from the stakeholders by way of a consultation paper to explore setting the benchmark range from as low as 0.5 to 1.5 percent.
Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha will be meeting with CEOs of mobile service providers on July 25 to discuss industry issues in general and call drops in particular. This will be the first meeting of Manoj Singh with telcos CEOs. "The minister has called a meeting with chief executive officers of telecom operators to discuss industry issue, including call drops," an industry source told PTI.
Most telecom operators except Airtel, Aircel and Tata Teleservices made the grade on the call drop test conducted by sector regulator TRAI in Thiruvananthapuram in June. "All operators have met the call set up success rate whereas 75 percent of the networks are meeting call drop rate threshold," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in the network drive test report that was released today.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today claimed that the call drop problem was improving with various telecom companies installing 1.24 lakh towers to mitigate the issue. "Things are improving....private telecom operators have installed one lakh towers, while the state-owned BSNL has put in place 24,000 Base Transceiver Station (BTS) towers across the country in the past one year to improve the call drop problem," he told reporters.
Leading operators Aircel, Vodafone and Idea are using call drop masking technology or RLT incorrectly in Mumbai, telecom regulator TRAI said today. "Most of the operators have focused on network improvement. However, usage of RLT (ie time-out period for releasing the call ) by Aircel, Vodafone and Idea is incorrect and needs to be addressed immediately," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in its Mumbai drive test report.
Most of the telecom operators have shown improvement in network performance although Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance, Aircel and Idea need to better their call drop rate performance in Delhi-NCR, TRAI today said. According to TRAI's 'Independent Drive Test Report' for May, there has been "general improvement" in the parameters used for measuring the quality of 2G networks in Delhi-NCR. "However, in case of the call drop rate parameter, further improvement is desired," it said.
Rejecting demand for giving penal power to telecom regulator TRAI, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said the authority has enough power to protect the interest of consumers. "It is intimated that TRAI is empowered by the TRAI Act to lay down the standards of quality of service to be provided by the service providers...so as to protect the interest of the consumers of telecommunication service. "Since TRAI has wide ranging powers, the need to change the TRAI Act is not felt at this juncture," Prasad said in a letter dated June 9 to MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
All telecom operators, except 2G network of Airtel and Vodafone, failed to meet call drop benchmark in an independent drive test conducted by the regulator TRAI. "Other than Airtel & Vodafone in 2G, all operators failed to meet the Call Drop Rate benchmark," the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said in a report released today. Airtel too failed to meet the 2 percent call drop benchmark for its 3G network.
Amid intense lobbying by mobile operators against giving more teeth to regulator TRAI, Telecom Secretary J S Deepak on Friday said penal powers cannot be the "one and final solution" for call drop and the firms have committed Rs. 12,000 crores to install new towers to check this problem. After its earlier direction asking telecom firms to pay consumer for each dropped call was quashed by the Supreme Court, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has asked the government to amend laws to give it powers for imposing fine of up to Rs. 10 crores on operators and jail term of up to two years for their executives.
The telecom service providers on Friday presented a 100-day action plan to the government on call drops and said collectively they will set up 70,000 base transceiver stations (BTS) within that time-frame. "The telecom operators have presented a four-point action plan to the Department of Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak and other government officials. First and foremost they said they will set up 70,000 BTS across the country in 100 days to address call drop problems," Rajan S. Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI) said after the meeting.
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'.
Health can't be cited as a reason anymore for denial of permission to set up telecom towers after recent court judgements but the authorities must hasten the process of approvals if call drops have to come down, a top stakeholder has said. "With the judgements of the Delhi High Court, the municipal body can't say any more that they will not give permission to erect towers, citing health reasons," said Rajan S. Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators' Association of India.
Regulator TRAI has found leading mobile operators such as Airtel, Vodafone and state-run BSNL using the Radio Link Time-Out technology at high levels, a network parameter allegedly being used for masking call drops. A TRAI report on network drive tests conducted in Hyderabad said "11 out of 14 networks" tested failed to meet call drop benchmark set under service quality norms.
Seeking more teeth to check call drops, TRAI has asked the government to amend law and allow it to impose penalty 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. This follows a Supreme Court judgment quashing the TRAI order that asked telecom operators to compensate subscribers for call drops. The regulator has suggested to the Department of Telecom amendments in various provisions in the TRAI Act, 1997, with a view to be an 'effective sector regulator'.