Communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is ready to help telecom operators in every way to fight the menace of call drops, but he won’t tolerate inaction. Edited excerpts from an interview with Suveen Sinha and M Rajendran:
On the fear of radiation from telecom towers
There was a campaign against alleged radiation. But complaint against call drops and campaign against towers cannot go hand in hand. There are World Health Organisation reports that say there is no evidence of health implications. What is relevant is not whether there is radiation but whether it is dangerous. It is not. If anyone is going to show me tangible, unmotivated evidence of dangerous implication, I will look into it with an open mind.
Finding more locations for towers
I would appeal to all RWAs (resident welfare associations), through you, to help in installation of infrastructure. My officers are in touch with the urban development department for installation of towers in government buildings. Then there are in-building solutions. In Sanchar Bhawan (the seat of the communications ministry), for example, operators have in-building solutions, which ease the pressure on spectrum.
The lack of spectrum and right of way operators talk about
I am not in a blame game. I appreciate the role operators have played. But they must understand that people want flawless delivery. I would appeal to them to understand this rising concern of the people.
Giving them more spectrum
After I became minister, I ensured good governance in spectrum auction. The long pending issue of defence band identification has been done. We will soon take to the cabinet trading and sharing of spectrum. The last auction was not the last auction. Whenever more spectrum becomes available, it will be auctioned. But a so-called scarcity of spectrum should not become an alibi.
Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal's email to subscribers asking where to set up towers
I am being very blunt to the gentleman you mentioned: It is your job to locate the place. If they can set up networks in the far corners of India, why not here? Whatever more they want, I am willing to do. But alibi should not be a ground for inaction. Improving the system is a part of their obligation to the consumer.