Cricket, as the cliché goes, is a great leveller. They could say that for call drops too — it spares no one.
Just the other day, Union communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was speaking, in his usual energetic manner, into his mobile phone when the person on the other side went eerily silent. Prasad, who makes policies for telecom operators and consumers, could only hear the echo of his own voice.
Though Prasad won’t discuss his personal experience, he is determined to improve the quality of telephony in the country. Ashok Kapoor, a doctor in the internal medicines section of Delhi-based National Heart Institute, readily discusses his personal experience, albeit with a sense of resignation. “I have started to use fixed line whenever possible. The mobile phone, with increasing call drops, is frustrating and could be a matter of life and death for my patients.”
Prasad and Kapoor are among millions who would swear that the network does not follow everywhere you go, like Vodafone’s little pug promised to. Airtel need not promise network in a faraway campsite like one of its old commercials did, to have it in the city would do just fine.
Read: Your calls drop because we don't have enough mobile towers: Airtel
The anecdotal evidence is compelling. If you are travelling in a car and hope to have a seamless conversation on the phone, good luck to you, especially if you are going over a flyover.
“It is a breach of contract… I have agreed to pay for a set of service parameters and call drops is not one of them,” says Sayed Naqvi, partner in Delhi-based law firm Kochhar & Co.
Operators argue that call drops hurt them just as much, if not more. “Operators do not earn extra in pulse second billing,” says Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the industry lobby, citing the system of billing in which the price of a call is calculated in seconds, not minutes.
More towers would mean a better network. However, as the graphic on this page illustrates, call drops are not a result of just shortage of towers, but also of inefficient network management.
“Towers are just one half of the problem, there is need for optimum utilisation and dynamic management of network,” says Kartik Raja, CEO and founder of Phimetrics Technologies, an independent audit company that measures mobile service experience in emerging markets.
The COAI is to submit a report on it to the communications minster on July 31.
They should hope the calls he makes in their presence won’t drop.
Call drops: 'Low spectrum shouldn't become an alibi for inaction'
Telcos blame low spectrum, less towers for call drops