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Telecom Regulator’s Move to Curb Call-drops Paying Off

Increased investments by telecom operators and better rules pertaining to the rollout of tower sites seem to be paying off when it comes to dealing with call-drops.

According to data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, the rate of call drops has improved over the last two years from 0.94 per cent in 2016 to 0.52 per cent by March 2018.

The call-drop rate is the percentage of calls getting disconnected due to network problems. Per TRAI’s quality of service benchmark, operators cannot have a call-drop rate greater than 2 per cent any time. Last year, according to TRAI’s performance indicator report, there were some operators that had a call-drop rate of over 9 per cent.

While all the operators have been claiming that their average call-drop rate is well below the TRAI specified norm, consumers from across the country have been complaining of frequent disruptions while making a phone call.

Change in norms

This had prompted the regulator to change its quality of service norms, prescribing a penalty of up to ₹10 lakh per circle in a quarter on operators for failing to meet voice quality benchmarks. It also started measuring the Quality of Service data from each tower site instead of taking an average rate for the entire licence area.

“TRAI and the Department of Telecom had read the riot act to the operators — to either improve the call-drop rate or face consequences. The regulator issued show-cause notices to some of the operators earlier this year for not complying with the new rules,” said a TRAI functionary.

Infrastructure upgrade

The threat of action prompted operators, including Airtel and Reliance Jio, to commit investments of over ₹74,000 crore to upgrade and expand their infrastructure. In addition, the DoT also eased the process for rolling out tower sites across the country.

“We are pleased to see the impact of the major investments being made by our member operators paying off. This improvement is in the face of the strenuous new QoS standards and measures introduced by TRAI to monitor and measure call-drops.

“Opening up of defence and government properties for location of cell towers and a very forward looking and innovative policy on Right of Way, have also helped,” said Rajan Mathews, Director General, COAI.

As of March 2018, there are no regions with call-drops higher than 1 per cent going by the data available on TRAI’s Quality of Service portal. The Hindu BusinessLine

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