This is for the first time that an Indian telecom operator has come forward to shows its support to India’s 900 million plus mobile consumers’ demand to avoid call drop issues.
The offer came from the Sunil Mittal promoted company in the wake of Indian telecom regulator TRAI facing a major setback in the Supreme Court. Yesterday, Supreme Court did not allow TRAI to impose any penalty on call drops.
Bharti Airtel says it will voluntarily implement 25 percent more stringent mobile call drop benchmark of 1.5 percent versus 2 percent prescribed by the TRAI. Bharti Airtel’s confidence in the quality of its telecom network strengthens the fact that it is spending more than $2 billion in mobile infrastructure this fiscal as well.
On top of this, Airtel will contribute a maximum of Rs 100 crore towards education of underprivileged children in rural India. Airtel will calculate the amount for exceeding the 1.5 percent call drop benchmark rate during network busy hour on a monthly average.
The company will report its Quality of Service data and the amount calculated on a quarterly/annual basis to ensure transparency.
Airtel India CEO Gopal Vittal said: This self-regulation on Quality of Service further underlines our commitment to our customers despite the challenges of limited spectrum availability and acquisition of sites in urban areas.”
Airtel has already rolled out Project Leap to invest Rs 60,000 crore over the next three years, to transform its network. Bharti Airtel is the only operator to announce substantial increase in investment in telecom networks to improve quality of calls. Vodafone also announced increase in its investment in mobile networks. The increase in investment by Idea Cellular was primarily for expanding 4G networks.
During FY 2016, Airtel invested over Rs 15,000 crore across India towards deployment of over 88,000 sites. This is the largest network deployment anywhere in the world outside of China.
As per the new benchmark, Airtel will contribute Rs 1 lakh for every 0.01 percent increase in call drop rate beyond 1.5 percent every month in each circle of operation.
Bharti Airtel said it decided to apply this standard benchmark across the country despite the constraint of difficult operating conditions in some areas, in particular hilly regions such as Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and North East.
Airtel’s mobile network in India serves over 250 million mobile customers. The Airtel network covers 96 percent of India’s population and reaches 7885 census towns and 779,919 non-census towns and villages.