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Network quality may suffer if spectrum issue not resolved:IDC

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Nov 4 (UNI) The country's telecom operators may not be able to continue satisfying customers if the government does not address the issue of spectrum availability speedily with customers complaining about network quality, said an IDC report.

As the imbroglio over how the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) allocates the much-needed spectrum to telecom operators continues, leading global provider of market intelligence and advisory services IDC said though at present spectrum allocation is considered a core technology issue, customers will soon start complaining about network quality.

IDC Country Manager Kapil Dev Singh said in a statement ''Indian telecom operators have done a good job of satisfying customers continuously over the last three years. But this may not continue if the government does not address the issue of spectrum availability speedily.'' According to IDC's 'India Mobile Services Usage and Satisfaction Study 2007', which is in its third year, finds that overall satisfaction among wireless mobile users has increased by about one percentage point to 92.6 per cent during 2007 as networks continued to improve services and streamline processes.

However, customer care suffered due to large increase in subscriber additions.

Only three of 11 service providers covered - Aircel, BPL Cellular and Hutch/Vodafone, were able to meet the 95 per cent satisfaction level set by TRAI, as compared to only one service provider in 2006 (Spice) and two service providers in 2005 (Idea and Aircel).

These findings are a part study conducted by IDC on a sample of 4,760 mobile users spread across 18 major cities from a representative set of category A, B and C telecom circles.

The study finds that despite an improvement in overall satisfaction, customers were quick to jump at a better offer from a competing network.

This trend has grown in the last one year and is more pronounced in B and C telecom circles. The number of loyal customers has gone down and the number of disloyal and opportunist consumers has risen from 18 per cent in 2006 to 20 per cent in 2007, finds the study.

''It may increase further when the long awaited number portability is finally introduced in India,'' the IDC India survey adds.

IDC India Senior Manager, Consumer Research Shailendra Gupta said ''Mobile service providers should not let go of their brand's inherent perceived strengths and continue to devise innovative pricing schemes and offers.'' With the total number of mobile subscribers in India set to double to 500 million by 2010, the pie is big enough for everyone, he added.

Of India's two oldest telecom players, the BSNL and MTNL, only MTNL achieved higher than industry customer satisfaction level at 92.8 per cent.

Two of the largest telecom players, Tata Telecom and Reliance Communications (both GSM and CDMA) lagged behind the industry average in customer satisfaction.

For the IDC study Customer Care emerged as a sore point with the survey finding mobile users were unhappy with the customer care services provided by the networks.

The average waiting time to speak to a customer care executive was 5.7 minutes, the highest across the last three years. Mobile users of all service providers, without an exception, saw an increase in their waiting time to reach their customer care executive this year, finds the study.

The key issues that bothered Indian customers included the 'Knowledge level and promptness of the Customer Care Executive (CCE)' and the 'Final solution provided by the CCE'.

Billing, which was an area of concern in the last two years saw an improvement of almost 10 percentage points from 85.5 in 2005 to 94.2 in 2007. Almost all service providers improved their billing processes, said the survey.

''It appears that service providers are not upgrading their infrastructure to match their growing customer base. This needs greater attention and implementation of a well defined customer care programme is likely to benefit service providers,'' Mr Shailendra said.


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