The number of call drops has fallen significantly, according to a review done by the communications ministry on Wednesday, though it believes that it’s not a job done yet. The three largest private sector operators — Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea — have shown a sharp improvement in call connectivity and quality, thanks in large part to their being able to set up several towers in the recent months.
All operators other than the state-owned BSNL and MTNL have managed to set up nearly 22,000 towers in the country in September, of which two-thirds are for 3G. In addition, they have matched wavelength among towers and corrected network faults.
BSNL has added 24,000 towers in the last 11 months, and plans to add another 6,000. MTNL has installed 26 new 2G and 13 towers for 3G in Delhi.
“Constant monitoring has ensured operators are not going to relax on this crucial parameter,“ communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who presided over Wednesday’s meeting of his ministry’s top officials, told HT.
Operators, hit by a campaign against perceived radiation emanating from installed towers, were finding it difficult to install new towers.
In recent times, the government has allowed sharing and trading of spectrum and liberalisation and harmonisation as well as trading of towers.
The monitoring by Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring Cells (TERM Cells), showed that of the 27,598 towers that were performing badly, half have shown improvement.
TERM Cells inspect the premises of telecom and Internet Service Providers, analyse call/subscription/traffic data of various licensees and monitor network parameters to ensure optimum call completion ratio.
“The minister was disturbed that operators were focussing more on their data traffic network and less on voice,” said a source who attended the meeting. “He is likely to communicate this to the telecom operators soon.”
Communications ministry officials said operators need to invest more in the voice network, not just data. They dismissed the operators’ threat to hike tariff if the penalty of `1 for every missed call is imposed from January 1, 2016.
“India is a huge market for any operator to ignore,” a top communications ministry official said.