Call drops: Govt hits out at operators for lack of investment


New Delhi: Hitting out at telecom operators for lack of investment in networks leading to call drops, the government today said they cannot escape the responsibility of meeting standards as it is their basic service obligation.

Rejecting the operators’ reasons, such as shutting down of towers and radiation fears, for call drops, government said all these factors existed earlier too but the problem has worsened in the last seven months.

“We told them this is not acceptable because these factors existed earlier also whereas call drops started happening in last seven months,” Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg told reporters here.

He said if expenditure on spectrum is set aside, operators have invested only about 13 percent of their revenue into infrastructure.

“They have not taken adequate action by which this problem could have been resolved,” the secretary said.

Telecom operators, yesterday, met the DoT secretary over the call drops issue and demanded a nation-wide mobile tower policy as well as easing restriction on erection of sites for improving quality of telephony services.

Assigning reasons for call drops, Garg said after the March auction, spectrum has changed hands and overall spectrum holding has increased, but its quantity in various bands has changed.

Giving an example, he said after the auction, a telecom operator has different quantity of 900 MHz and 1800 Mhz, maybe less in 900 MHz and more in 1800 MHz, so in that case the equipment he has put in has excess capacity in 900 MHz but less capacity in 1800 Mhz.

“So, he need to invest now in equipment in 1800 MHz, but what we feel is that as technologies are changing … 2G towers are changing to 3G and 3G to LTE and sometimes 2G towers to LTE…Many of the companies are going slow in making investments in these equipment (2G) leading to call drops,” he said.

He said if a company plans to come out with LTE, they are slowing investments in 2G and 3G.

“They cannot escape from the investment in the current technology (2G), which are being used by the public so they need to pay attention to this,” Garg said.

He also said that optimisation is a continuous process and efforts need to be intensified for desirable results.

The secretary said operators need to optimise their networks for handling voice and data traffic. He said what is happening currently is that telcos have allocated more bandwidth to data as compared to voice.

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