Telecom operators blame low spectrum availability, arbitrary demolition of cell towers and misplaced fears on emission for the rising incidence of call drops in India.
“…placing sites has become a serious problem in most cities due to misplaced fears of the impact of sites and air waves. In fact as you read this, some of our sites are getting shut down across India,” Gopal Vittal CEO and managing director of Airtel wrote in a letter on July 16, to the company’s 215 million subscribers across the country.
Read: Network doesn't follow everywhere you go, thanks to call drop
Airtel, Idea cellular, Vodafone, Reliance Communications and others have consistently pointed the hurdles faced by them in installing towers and getting right of way, which is critical to avoid call drops. HT wrote to all the four operators seeking their view, each of them requested on phone that Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is the nodal agency and will respond on the issue of call drop.
COAI represents all telecom operators in India, except Reliance Communication (CDMA operations) and Tata Teleservices, is working with the government to resolve the call drop problem.
“It is counterproductive…when call drops, we lose revenue, because the subscriber calls again and it puts pressure on the network,” says Rajan Mathews, director general, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) told HT.
But he is also quick to point that the arbitrary switching off of the communications system and blocking operations of telecom towers by local municipalities in major cities and across the country needs to stop.
Vittal in his letter, points that Airtel’s emission standards are one tenth that of global averages and much more stringent that even Europe.
Rajan told HT that the towers of operators are removed forcibly or through orders from local bodies without any hearing or an opportunity to present the case.
“It needs to stop…because when we show them all relevant papers they apologies and go away…by then the network is down and call drops would have occurred,” said Mathews.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which has a new chairman in RS Sharma, is expected to issue incentives and disincentives to curb the menace.
Call drops: 'Low spectrum shouldn't become an alibi for inaction'