The telecom industry on Friday assured the government that it is doing its best and will continue its efforts to check the menace of call drops even as the latter promised that it will try to resolve all the teething issues like right of way, checking illegal repeaters, and cross-border interference in signals.
At a meeting with JS Deepak, secretary at the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), CEOs of operators said that they will accelerate and redeploy their planned capex and other resources to check call drops. The meeting, which comprised Gopal Vittal of Bharti Airtel, Sunil Sood of Vodafone India, Himanshu Kapania of Idea Cellular along with Rajan Mathews of the Cellular Operators Association of India, among others, was the first between the DoT and the industry bigwigs since the Supreme Court quashed the Re 1 charge the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had mandated the operators to pay to the consumers for every dropped call.
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Every year the industry spends around Rs 52,000 crore in networks, towers, and the like. For the current year, also it will spend the same as committed earlier. It puts up around 50,000-100,000 towers each year depending upon the demand. On Friday, it assured the DoT that it will accelerate and redeploy this, meaning that of the Rs 52,000 crore of capex it would spend Rs 12,000 crore over the course of the next three months in putting up 60,000 towers of the 100,000 it plans to put during the year. Of this, 100 new sites will be put in Delhi during the next three months. “The mobile operators have promised to add 60,000 new cell sites where they need to improve their quality of service,” Deepak said after the meeting, adding that the problem of call drops required a more sophisticated solution and that there was no magic bullet to resolve it.
Mathews, director-general of COAI, said that the industry told the secretary about the factors leading to call drops like interference in signals from illegal use of repeaters, especially in Delhi and Mumbai, from signals across the border and from the freshly allocated 800 MHz spectrum that interferes with the lower band of 900 MHz band.