Call Drops: Whose prob­lem it is?

Brain­storm the so­lu­tion at the Voice&Data Fo­rum

Voice&Data - - FRONT PAGE -

The call drop is­sue has ex­ac­er­bated in In­dia in the past four-five months with the qual­ity of ser­vice (QoS) drop­ping sig­nif­i­cantly be­low the norms pre­scribed by the Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity of In­dia (TRAI), leav­ing the con­sumers in In­dia at the re­ceiv­ing end. It led to the is­sue be­ing taken up in earnest at the high­est level in the coun­try with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi point­ing out his con­cern with the grow­ing call drops men­ace hit­ting the com­mon man. He ex­horted the tele­com com­pa­nies to ad­dress it ur­gently. The telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions min­istry has even warned tel­cos of pe­nal ac­tion amount­ing up to Rs 50 crore if they do not cor­rect the is­sue with ef­fi­cient spec­trum uti­liza­tion and a net­work up­grade.

Tel­cos have been drag­ging their feet on the is­sue cit­ing data explosion and in­ad­e­quate spec­trum. The ‘net­works sim­ply can­not keep up’ is the gen­eral re­frain and they have also high­lighted the is­sues of spec­trum trad­ing and var­i­ous lev­els of vex­ing per­mis­sions re­quired to set up tow­ers. All of which gov­ern­ment is promis­ing to smoothen.

The in­dus­try av­er­age of call drop in­ci­dents at the end of Jan­uary-March 2015 pe­riod was 12.5% com­pared to 6.01% a year ago on 2G net­works, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased by the Tele­com Reg­ula- tory Author­ity of In­dia (TRAI). On 3G the call drop per­cent jump for a pe­riod of one year is much worse. Ac­cord­ing to the norms laid out by TRAI, call drops should be in the range of be­low 2%.

How­ever, not a sin­gle op­er­a­tor is in the ac­cept­able range. The top tel­cos in In­dia Bharti Air­tel, fol­lowed by Voda­fone, Idea Cel­lu­lar and BSNL have the max­i­mum num­ber of com­plaints against them for call drops up to June 30. In­dus­try ex­perts point out the prob­lem is ac­tu­ally more se­vere as the op­er­a­tor def­i­ni­tion of a call drop cov­ers only the dis­con­nec­tion and not the few sec­onds when you don’t hear what the per­son at the other end is say­ing be­cause of low qual­ity of trans­mis­sion.

Join the dis­cus­sion round ta­ble at Voice&Data Fo­rum. To qual­ify for this, you need to be the CIO/ CTO/IT head/ CMO/ head of reg­u­la­tory/ tech­nol­ogy ex­pert or any other po­si­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity from where you can con­trib­ute your per­spec­tive in im­prov­ing the net­work. To join: just drop a mail to vndedit@cy­ber­me­dia.co.in with ‘Voice&Data Fo­rum’ in the sub­ject line and your name, des­ig­na­tion, com­pany, mo­bile num­ber and e-mail ad­dress in the mail. We will in­form you about the date and lo­ca­tion.

Call drop in a net­work can oc­cur due to var­i­ous rea­sons, in­clud­ing in­suf­fi­cient cov­er­age due to paucity of mo­bile tow­ers and han­dover fail­ure due to net­work con­ges­tion on ac­count of more users in a par­tic­u­lar area.

“Ac­cord­ing to ser­vice providers, the com­mon rea­sons at­trib­uted to call drops are equip­ment faults, fre­quent load shed­ding in some cir­cles, dif­fi­culty in site ac­qui­si­tion and re­stric­tions near in­ter­na­tional border,” stated Tele­com Min­is­ter Ravi Shankar Prasad while ex­plain­ing the is­sue in a par­lia­men­tary de­bate. He in­formed that the call drop rate should be less than 2%, ac­cord­ing to the TRAI bench­mark. The per­for­mance of ser­vice providers against the bench­mark for call drops is mon­i­tored by TRAI and in this re­gard, meet­ings have been held by the reg­u­la­tor with op­er­a­tors for im­prov­ing their per­for­mance.

In Au­gust, the Depart­ment of Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions (DoT) also asked all the tel­cos to file weekly up­date on call drops and to im­prove con­nec­tiv­ity with im­me­di­ate ef­fect in ar­eas like the I&B Min­istry head­quar­ters at San­char Bhawan, the Supreme Court premises, Shas­tri Bhawan that houses a host of min­istries, the air­port-Rash­tra­p­ati Bhawan route, and cer­tain Metro sta­tions among oth­ers.

Things could im­prove if tele­com con­nec­tiv­ity is treated on part with elec­tric­ity and wa­ter sup­ply and uni­form code on pro­vid­ing it is adopted coun­try­wide. How­ever, that is eas­ier said than done. Prasad has taken the ini­tia­tive to con­nect with states and high­light to re­spec­tive chief min­is­ters why their sup­port is crit­i­cal and has gone ahead and of­fered rooftops of gov­ern­ment build­ings to set up boost­ers and tow­ers. In In­dian gov­er­nance struc­ture, states and mu­nic­i­pal bod­ies have in­flu­ence over the de­ci­sion and a uni­form code is some­thing the tel­cos have been de­mand­ing for years now. With the data explosion ex­pected with the im­proved 3G up­take and the 4G traf­fic that will build up by early 2016 pol­icy level ini­tia­tives have be­come ur­gent to en­sure that dig­i­tal In­dia dream fruc­ti­fies.

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