Expressing concern over the poor quality of mobile services in the financial capital, especially on its lifeline rail network, Telecom Secretary JS Deepak on August 23 said telcos will soon be asked to prepare an action plan on lines of one being undertaken in Delhi to improve the services. “In the commercial capital, we need to have the best connectivity…Mumbai cannot be lower in priority than Delhi…” Deepak told reporters on the sidelines of a Department of Telecom event in Mumbai.
He said a meeting of telcos and the civic body has been convened later in the day to discuss the specifics and improve the service quality, especially in the “dark spots”.
Speaking on the “dark spots,” Deepak specified the rail network which carries upwards of 65 lakh passengers everyday and South Mumbai which has seen some protests by civil society as among the problem areas in the megapolis.
Deepak said the department will also be discussing the possibility of erecting telecom infrastructure on the railway network, for the benefit of passengers.
It can be noted that the railway commuters frequently face issues of call drops and lack of data connectivity while travelling.
In June, the department had announced a 100-day plan to upgrade the quality of services in the national capital region, under which telcos had committed to invest Rs 12,000 crore and install over 60,000 towers to check the issue of call drops.
After its earlier direction asking telecom firms to pay consumer for each dropped call was quashed by the Supreme Court, sector watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority has asked the government to amend laws to give it powers for imposing fine of up to Rs 10 crore on operators and jail term of up to two years for their executives.
Deepak today said there is a similarity of issues in both the mega cities, which are the top two telecom markets.
“The problems are similar in many ways. It is a requirement of investment, requirement of infrastructure, requirement not to seal towers and using technology for better optimisation,” he said, adding there are some city-specific problems like the rail network in the financial capital.
Speaking on the Delhi plan, Deepak said even as one more month is left for the plan to be implemented, the department is getting positive feedback on improvement in the quality.
“Our feedback says there has been an improvement in connectivity in many areas, quality of service is also better,” he said, adding in the next phase, towers will be erected on government buildings like post offices and also airports.
Asserting that low level electromagnetic frequency emitted by telecom towers is fully safe, Deepak urged the civil society not to create any difficulties for the operators in erecting the telecom masts.
Speaking at a special outreach programme on the issue, he also asked local bodies to facilitate expansion of the telecom infrastructure without causing hindrances through moves like “usurious rates” for undertaking the jobs.
He said all the studies conducted support his point and accused activists of spreading unfounded fears which are “myths and misconceptions”.