Indian operators to set up 70,000 telecom towers to curb call drops

Indian telecom service providers on Friday presented a 100-day action plan to the government on call drops and said collectively they will set up 70,000 base transceiver stations (BTS) within that time-frame.

“The telecom operators have presented a four-point action plan to the Department of Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak and other government officials. First and foremost they said they will set up 70,000 BTS across the country in 100 days to address call drop problems,” Rajan S. Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) said after the meeting.

Rajan Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India
Rajan Mathews

“Secondly, the operators said optimisation of network will be done in all 22 telecom circles in the country and thirdly they sought government’s help in addressing interference issues by people like setting up of illegal mobile repeaters to boost signals,” Mathews added.

Gopal Vittal, Bharti Airtel’s CEO for India and South Asia; Sunil Sood, Vodafone India’s CEO; Himanshu Kapania, Idea Cellular’s Managing Director; Sanjay Mashruwala, Reliance Jio’s Managing Director among others attended the meeting as COAI members.

“They have proposed a 100-day action plan,” DoT Secretary J.S. Deepak said, adding, “I don’t think, in my personal view, someone should go to jail every time a call drops.”

Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently said he has an open mind on empowering the telecom watchdog to impose penalties on operators for call drops and poor service quality, but will wait for a formal request.

“If the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) approaches us in a structured manner about the legal architecture we will consider it with an open mind,” Prasad told IANS in a recent interview.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had struck down the penalty on call drops proposed by the telecom watchdog, calling the move, as taken, to be ultra vires, arbitrary, unreasonable and non-transparent. It also found the action void of data or reason.

In a recent test by the TRAI, it said most telecom service providers failed to meet the call drop rate threshold of less than two per cent in the national capital region (NCR).

The action plan by the operators comes after the Delhi High Court and Allahabad High Court decided that health cannot be cited as a reason anymore for denial of permission to set up telecom towers.

Mathews said the government will be monitoring the progress.


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