Telecom operators body COAI said it does not see ‘ease of doing business’ in the sector as rules framed by the Centre are not getting implemented at local level for network rollout. “Law of the land should work as indicated, but ease of business is not there when we get down to local levels,” COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews told reporters while discussing issues around call drops.
He said the municipal bodies and Panchayats are not following the rules framed by the Centre and obstruct rolling out of telecom network. During the BRICS summit 2016 held in Goa, the telecom minister, secretary and other top officials from Centre went to the state to get mobile towers installed to handle traffic load but still telecom companies failed to get adequate permission from local bodies, Mathews said.
“In Bangalore, we are asked to pay price equivalent to the market for digging an area for laying optical fibre cable. The amount of money demanded is so huge that it leaves no business case for us,” Mathews said. He said some states have aligned their policy for rolling out telecom networks with that of the Centre, but there is a other states. As per a presentation by the COAI, Odisha, Haryana and Rajasthan have notified policy as per the rules notified by the Department of Telecom and expect Uttar Pradesh and Assam to soon notify them.
“Telecom operators have been investing huge amount to prevent call drops. In last 12 months, telecom companies have invested Rs 34,677 crore to instal 3,46,778 base stations. Just two operators, Airtel and Jio have committed to invest Rs 74,000 crore in one year to address the problem. We are making best effort to check call drops,” Mathews said. He said telecom networks are not the only factor responsible for call drops and the regulations do not consider other factors.
As per the COAI, call drops may occur because of interference of signals, congestion on cell sites, weather conditions, faulty handsets and call transfer from one tower to the another. It said that most of the factors on customer side have not been considered under TRAI regulations. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has made provisions to impose penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh on service providers if they fail to meet the benchmark for three consecutive quarters.
Mathews said that problem of call drop is more in data based networks like voice-over LTE (VoLTE) than the technology used for 2G and 3G. He said the average spectrum holding, required for transmitting mobile signals, is very low in India and operators can buy additional spectrum only if it is reasonably priced.