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TRAI to meet Telcos over call drop issue on Jan 10


New Delhi, Jan 8: The Department of Telecom (DoT) will hold separate meetings with operators as well as the sector regulator TRAI on January 10, to discuss the call drop issue. TRAI has been concerned about the deteriorating call drop situation.

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Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said the meeting with CEOs of telecom companies will discuss the current "situation on call drops" as well as the new service quality rules implemented by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in October last year. DoT will also separately meet the regulator the same day (that is, January 10) to discuss the issues related to call quality.

"We want to communicate to the operators, the concerns of the Government on the state of call drops...we will ask service providers to get their act together," Sundararajan told reporters on the sidelines of a Bharat Net event.

The call quality situation has deteriorated, she said citing increasing number of consumer complaints. Over the last two years, service quality in telecom has been a burning issue. In 2016, the regulator had even ordered operators to compensate users for call drops (Re 1 for each call dropped) but the missive was struck down by the Supreme Court. The Telecom Department had in a series of meetings over the last few quarters asked telcos to undertake immediate measures to improve call quality, including setting up additional mobile towers across the country.

"The service providers had made commitments on improving the infrastructure...call drop has an impact on consumers," Sundararajan added. The meeting with telecom industry CEOs will be chaired by the DoT Secretary. Stating that new call drop norms have now come into effect, the secretary said the Government is constantly "monitoring" the situation.

Under TRAI's new Quality of Service (QoS) formula, telecom operators may face a maximum penalty of Rs 10 lakh for call drops which will be measured at mobile tower level instead of telecom circle level. The new call drop rules came into force from October 1 and the December quarter will see the first instance of reporting under the new formula. Meanwhile, Telecom Commission, the highest decision- making body of the Telecom Department, will meet tomorrow to discuss multiple issues including a proposal for raising of spectrum caps, as recommended by the regulator.

The TRAI has suggested removal of ceiling on spectrum held by mobile operators within a particular band, while mooting a 50 per cent cap on combined radiowave holding in efficient bands like 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz. Sundararajan said Telecom Commission will also take up some proposals relating to IMG (Interministerial Group) report, wi-fi rollout under broadband connectivity project Bharat Net, and increasing connectivity in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It may be recalled that IMG in its report to the Government last year had recommended giving one-time opportunity to telcos to opt for more number of instalments (16 years instead of the current 10) for payment of spectrum. Other recommendations include easing the interest rate on delayed payment of license fee and spectrum usage charges.


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