In The Name of The Com­mon Man

Voice&Data - - EDITORIAL -

In­dian prime min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi be­lieves that the call drop prob­lem di­rectly af­fects the com­mon man. He is right, and the av­er­age con­sumers are really fed up.

Ex­press­ing se­ri­ous con­cern over the call drop men­ace the prime min­is­ter di­rected min­istry of­fi­cials to ad­dress it ur­gently, and en­sure that the prob­lems of voice calls do not start hap­pen­ing in data ser­vices too.

Com­ing down heav­ily on mo­bile op­er­a­tors, Modi said that op­er­a­tors can­not es­cape their “re­spon­si­bil­ity and ac­count­abil­ity”. This could be an un­fair charge, and the so­lu­tion may lie as much with the Gov­ern­ment as with the op­er­a­tors.

It is heart­en­ing to see the prime min­is­ter of the coun­try get­ting con­cerned about qual­ity of tele­com ser­vice, but he is most prob­a­bly go­ing af­ter the smaller cul­prit.

While, tele­com min­is­ter Ravi Shankar Prasad claims that “what­ever the gov­ern­ment is re­quired to do, gov­ern­ment has done and will do more”, op­er­a­tors do not agree. They in­sist that even if the prime min­is­ter puts all his pres­sure, un­less some fun­da­men­tal changes are made, the prob­lem will per­sist.

Ac­cord­ing to tele­com op­er­a­tors shut­ting down of mo­bile tow­ers amid ra­di­a­tion fears; not be­ing able to put up new tow­ers in the face of grow­ing sub­scriber base and in­creas­ing traf­fic; and more that any­thing else, lack of spec­trum, are the real rea­sons for call drops.

Op­er­a­tors have thus thrown the ball back to the Gov­ern­ment and want it to understand th­ese is­sues, and take ac­tions ac­cord­ingly.

For in­stance, pri­vate op­er­a­tors claim that more than 10,000 sites have been locked or shut down across ma­jor cities, and their long pend­ing de­mand for a uni­form na­tional pol­icy for in­stal­la­tion of mo­bile tow­ers has not been able to dis-en­tan­gle it­self from red tape.

Even though the Gov­ern­ment is now con­sid­er­ing eas­ier norms for in­stal­la­tion of mo­bile tow­ers on gov­ern­ment build­ings, and the spec­trum shar­ing guide­lines have been also been re­cently ap­proved, in­dus­try lead­ers say the re­forms dis­cus­sions are hap­pen­ing but ac­tion on the ground is still very slow.

The gov­ern­ment might in­sist on op­er­a­tors’ need to in­vest in their in­fra­struc­ture, op­ti­mise their net­works; and TRAI might be plan­ning a white pa­per on this mat­ter, the an­swers most prob­a­bly lie some­where else.

It is al­most 16 months since the new gov­ern­ment came with lots of prom­ises. The in­dus­try and the cit­i­zens, all of whom as­pire to lever­age the ‘knowl­edge cap­i­tal of the world’ dream that Modi has wo­ven, are get­ting rest­less.

<ibrahima@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in>

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