In The Name of The Common Man
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.