Follow Us:
Sunday, August 14, 2022

Hello, anyone there?

Call drops raise questions about Digital India. Spectrum shortage is at the heart of the matter.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: August 31, 2015 12:15:23 am
call drop, call drop issues, Narendra Modi, Sanchar Bhawan, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Mobile companies, News, Telecom News, 3G services, india news, Indian express Civic authorities have forced about 10,000 towers to shut down across major cities.

With the problem of call drops worsening over the last few months, the prime minister, at a high-level meeting last week, highlighted the urgency of finding a solution. To address the scarcity of cell phone towers — there are about 5,50,000 towers in India at present and approximately 1,00,000 more are needed — Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has agreed to allow them to be set up on top of government buildings. He also rightly tried to dispel some of the misinformation on radiation from them. But, ultimately, the ball was placed firmly in the court of the telcos, and they were asked to get their act together. The department of telecommunications is said to be examining the possibility of fining telcos. While it is true that service providers need to fix their networks — in Delhi, for instance, the major players are still grappling with the fallout of the 2014 auction in which they lost spectrum in the 900 MHz band, and new network set-ups take time to optimise — the roots of the present problem, and the solutions, can also be traced back to government policy.

Civic authorities have forced about 10,000 towers to shut down across major cities. The lack of a uniform national policy on the setting up of these towers is a major problem. So while Delhi, Singapore and Shanghai each have about 2.2 towers per sq km, a leading telco in Delhi faces a “load” of about 49 hours per MHz per tower, compared to 8.9 in Singapore and 6.5 in Shanghai. Even though cell phone towers act as boosters and help radio waves travel further, ultimately, only so many of them can be set up before they start interfering with each other. Indeed, though the lack of towers is a serious issue, the nub of the problem is inadequate spectrum — a telco in India has 12 MHz of spectrum compared to the global average of 40 MHz, which means they get less spectral efficiency and need more towers. In large part, this is due to the hoarding of spectrum by the government — for instance, in this year’s auction, the Centre did not put on the block all the spectrum vacated by the ministry of defence — as well as punishing auction rules. While spectrum costs the same in the US and user charges are higher, telcos there can use it for perpetuity, compared to 20 years in India.

Even though the Centre recently approved a spectrum-sharing policy, the rules are too constrictive to bring change. Unless the government sorts out the issue of spectrum shortage, it cannot make progress on the Digital India programme.

Subscriber Only Stories
Explained: Why South Korea is phasing out ‘Parasite’-style semi-basement ...Premium
As US weighs Guantánamo options, Saudi center may offer solutionPremium
Their own worst enemy; how Britain’s education policy cost it the Empire’...Premium
UPSC Essentials: Weekly news express with MCQs— RBI’s surveys to fo...Premium

📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
First published on: 31-08-2015 at 12:15:20 am
0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by

Featured Stories