Telecom operators may have to pay consumers Rs 1 as compensation for every call drop experienced, the sector regulator indicated, a day ahead of unveiling a system, strategy and process of identifying call drops.
“I cannot deny or confirm the news on the quantum or nature of penalty… but we have decided to suggest the imposition of a penalty on Friday,” Trai chairman RS Sharma told HT on Friday.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said tests conducted in Delhi and Mumbai had shown the problem of call drops in these cities had seen no significant improvement and quality of services provided was still not up to the mark.
The move to penalize telcos comes in the wake of increasing complaints of call drops and warnings from stakeholders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, had recently made his displeasure known to communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
But identifying call drops could be a difficult task.
“Technically, it is not easy to establish a call drop. A customer can remove the battery while talking to make it look like a call drop, so it will be disputable,” said Kartik Raja, CEO and founder of Phimetrics Technologies, an independent audit company focused on measuring (mobile service) customer experience across emerging markets.
Telecom operators Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone and Reliance communications, when contacted by HT, said industry representative Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) would comment on it.
Calls to COAI director general Rajan Mathews went unanswered but one of its senior officials said, “It is disappointing and uncalled for when we are making efforts to improve call drops… we have to see the final order and whether it is feasible to implement.”
Cracking down on deficient services, Trai also said operators would now be fined up to Rs 1 lakh (from the present R50,000) for a first-time offence of non-compliance with benchmarks in a quarter. Mobile services are tested on 15 parameters that cover technical aspects and customer care.
Releasing the test results for the Delhi and Mumbai telecom networks, Sharma said, “This was a second opportunity given to operators in the two cities to improve on call drops and quality of service. Unfortunately, they are still not up to the mark and fail the benchmarks of good quality service.”