Call drop menace: will TRAI bell telecoms?

Call drops in Mumbai and Delhi

TRAI or Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Friday sought response from telecom users across the country in a bid to eliminate call drops and poor quality of services (QoS) offered by mobile service providers.

The telecom regulator, in its consultation paper, suggested that Indian mobile operators should compensate wireless subscribers for poor QoS and call drops. Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged telecoms and other stakeholders to handle the call drops issue smoothly.

If TRAI is successful in implementing this consultation paper as a policy, it will start impacting the revenue of telecom network operators such as Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, Reliance Communications, Tata Docomo, BSNL, MTNL, etc.

“The problem of call drops in the country has aggravated with the passage of time,” said TRAI in its consultation paper.

In order to assess the call drop issues, TRAI, in June-July, 2015, conducted drive-tests on certain routes of Mumbai and Delhi. In the drive-tests, call drop rate of most of the telecoms was higher than the benchmark of <=2 percent, set by the telecom regulator. TRAI would be conducting such drive tests across various cities in the country.

TRAI cites reasons for call drops

# lack of radio coverage
# radio interference between neighboring cells
# imperfections in the functioning of the network
# capacity constraints and overload of the different elements of the network
# antenna related problems
# transmission media related problems
# unauthorized repeaters etc

What TSPs say

# spectrum crunch
# resistance of resident welfare associations against installation of towers
Capacity and usage of GSM networks

TRAI said the investment made in the network infrastructure (other than radio spectrum) in wireless access service segment rose by 4.6 percent from Rs 2,02,366 crore in FY 2012-13 to Rs 2,11,691 crore in FY 2013-14. During this period, the minutes of usage grew by 6.8 percent. TRAI says the, investment has not kept pace with the usage. “It appears that lack of investment in network infrastructure by the wireless access providers may be one of the main reasons for the problem of call drops,” said TRAI.

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.
Investment in telecom network
“Call drop is a problem faced by consumers so they should be directly compensated,” TRAI Chairman R S 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 per cent of all calls made on a network in a telecom service area.

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.

According to industry experts, telecoms need to increase their investment in telecom networks. Idea Cellular in April 2015 said its Capex spend for FY 2015 was Rs 40.5 billion or nearly $600 million towards telecom infrastructure to support the exponential voice and mobile data growth. For comparison, AT&T, American telecom major, invests nearly $18 billion towards Capex.

Baburajan K
[email protected]