Unfair to blame operators for call drops; allow more sites for cell towers : ASSOCHAM to Govt

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Expressing concern over steadily deteriorating situation with regard to call drops in mobile networks, ASSOCHAM today pointed out it is unfair to put the blame on the operators only since many of the critical factors causing the problem are not within the control of the telecom industry.


Explaining the technical aspects of the paper, Mr. T V Ramachandran, Chairman of ASSOCHAM Telecom Council stated that fundamentally, once a cellular network has been set up and stabilized, call drops can only happen either if there is inadequate spectrum or there is not enough networks of towers to achieve satisfactory signal coverage of the service area. “Regrettably, in India, we suffer from both these serious handicaps”.

Concerned that the situation is more worrisome in metros like Delhi and Mumbai, Mr. Ramachandran said, due to unjustified and unfounded concerns in some quarters regarding EMF exposure, the industry is not being allowed to set up cell sites and towers at the right places. The difficulty is further compounded by municipalities and civic administrations which do not cooperate to give the necessary permissions for tower installations.

Also read: Call drops: Maximum complaints against Airtel, followed by Vodafone

According to TRAI data, at least 523 sites in Delhi and 801 sites in Mumbai were shut down in the past six months due to alleged radiation scares or issues with municipalities. As many as 25 towers are shut down each week in Mumbai. Shutting down one tower would not only affect the 700 or more subscribers attached to the tower but also impact the performance of at least half a dozen towers adjoining the sealed tower.

In this context, Mr. Ramachandran warmly lauded the great initiative of Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and the Department of Telecom, who, in close consultation with the Ministry of Urban Development have agreed to make available government properties to the operators to set up towers. This is indeed a big breakthrough initiative which if quickly implemented on the ground, will start giving the much-needed relief on Call Drops.

While the DoT has written to operators asking them to furnish a report by 31st July on the steps taken for improving on call drops, “We request the government to carry through the Spectrum Reform processes and make available more Spectrum to operators as well as permit Spectrum sharing, Spectrum trading and a more liberal M & A. All these and the latest initiative for tower installation will surely give a big boost to Digital India and enable customers to have top class mobile services with minimum call drops

There is tremendous inadequacy of Spectrum allotted per operator. Not only is the total spectrum released for mobile services in India only about half of what generally prevails elsewhere, but also this is aggravated by the fact that this smaller quantum of total spectrum has to be further rationed out to more number of operators than in other regimes. Result is that per operator, the amount of spectrum allotted is probably only one third or one fourth of what available in other regimes

All the above plus the latest Government initiative for tower installation will surely give a big boost to Digital India and enable customers to have top class mobile services with minimum call drops, added Mr. Ramachandran.

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