Plagued by the problem of call drops, telecom regulator TRAI on Friday proposed that service providers should compensate mobile subscribers for call drops and poor quality of services.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday floated a consultation paper seeking public view on the proposal.
"It appears that a consumer relief measure against call drops would be effective only if it reaches the affected consumers. These measures could extend from not charging the consumers for dropped calls to compensating them by crediting talk-time or amounts in their accounts," the TRAI paper said.
The regulator proposed that any call which gets dropped within five seconds would not be charged, and in case a call gets dropped any time after five seconds, the last pulse of the call should not be included for the purpose of charging.
TRAI has come out with the paper more than a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concerns on call drop problem being faced by consumers across country.
"Call drop is a problem faced by consumers so they should be directly compensated," TRAI Chairman RS Sharma told PTI.
At present, TRAI levies penalty on telecom operators for failing to meet service quality benchmarks. As per the rule, call drop should not be more than 2% of all calls made on a network in a telecom service area.
"The consumers seem to be asking a simple question: Having paid for the service, why should I be denied a reasonable call quality?" TRAI said in the consultation paper.
In the past one year, consumers at various fora have raised the issue of call drops, complaining that their experience of making voice calls has deteriorated, TRAI said.
"The issue of too frequent call drops seems to have annoyed not only the consumers and businesses, but also has become a major cause of concern for policymakers and Parliamentarians," TRAI said.
The call drop problem during peak hours in one year has almost doubled, as per a report of the regulator.
Last date for submitting comments on the paper is September 28.
'Mandatory disclosure on network capacity'
TRAI is also considering making it mandatory for telecom operators to disclose their network capacities periodically, as the regulator feels that call drop problem needs to be examined in entirety.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said telcos should also disclose steps taken to optimise their networks to address the problem.
The problem of call drops has become more acute in the last 3-4 months. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too last week voiced serious concerns over the menace and asked officials concerned to take urgent steps to address it.
However, GSM industry body COAI said the issue of call drops is not on account of overall capacity constraint but on account of the operators' ability to either deploy sites in key and critical areas or shortage of spectrum.
Quoting media reports on declaration of operational capacity, COAI in a letter of Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg said, "the proposed action will potentially change market structure, favour specific operators which is not
Further, COAI said mobile network capacity of each site and consequently, the network is planned on the basis of estimated traffic in the covered areas.
It added customer usage pattern in terms of location and time of use is not static and is dependent on time of day, day of week, mix between 2G and 3G traffic among other things.
However, sources in Department of Telecom (DoT) said it is quite strange that the industry body has not given any reason for not adopting the norm of making public their capacity circle wise, which will help consumers to make an
informed decision while choosing a service provider.
"In fact such a practice is mandatory to honour government's commitment to transparency and efficient governance," the sources said.
They added that continuous demand for additional spectrum by telecom operators only vindicates the government's belief that ratio of service infrastructure to consumer is unmanageable.