Indian telecom operators have on Monday committed to install 1 lakh towers within a year with an investment of about Rs 20,000 crore to tackle the mobile call drop menace, according to media reports. This was the outcome of the meeting of top honchos of telecom operators and Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha to discuss the call drop issue and spectrum auctions. The first meeting on the same issue of call drops was held in June this year with Telecom Secretary JS Deepak and telecom CEOs.
Top telecom executives including Bharti Airtel's Gopal Vittal, Vodafone India's Sunil Sood and Idea Cellular's Himanshu Kapania together with lobby groups COAI and AUSPI met Sinha to discuss some of the pertinent issues including 'financial health' of the industry.
Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, after a meeting with telecom executives, told reporters that telecom operators had installed 48,000 towers in last 45 days, out of 60,000 towers they promised to install in 100 days. "They have committed to a one-year plan. Their performance has been satisfactory, but the government wants consumers should experience that improvement in networks," Sinha said.
Earlier this month, after taking charge of the office, the minister said, "Call drop is another issue we are discussing in all seriousness. In the coming 4-5 months, you will see work happening on that front."
The Minister said that the customer experience should not only be in the area of call drop but also in space of data services.
"We are not anywhere close to experiencing required for the success of Digital India initiative of the Prime Minister," Sinha said.
During the meeting, telcos have also sought the opening up of new frequency bands -- 71-76 gigahertz (GHz) and 50 GHz, reports added, which said that telcos have wireless services deployed in these bands are considered to deliver the broadband speed of up to 1 gigabit per second as in case of optical fibres.
The Indian government is preparing for the mega-spectrum auction, which is estimated to be worth Rs 5.66 lakh crore. A Cabinet meeting last month had approved the auction of over 2,300MHz of airwaves in seven bands - 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1,800MHz, 2,100MHz, 2,300MHz and 2,500MHz. The previous round had seen 470.75MHz on the block.
The Minister reportedly Sinha told the operators that spectrum auction will be conducted in September, and it will resolve spectrum shortage problem in the industry.