The telecom department is looking for technological solutions to resolve the problem of calls drops on an urgent basis, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan has said, adding that merger of telcos, lack of investments in 2G and the surging usage of data which was outpacing infratructure expansion were hurting quality of services despite the best efforts the ministry and the regulator.
The statement on Thursday comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi pulled up the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for himself facing call drops.
“The PM has taken cognisance to the call drop problem very seriously and asked the department to find the solution to this problem on a priority as people are facing inconvenience,” Sundararajan said.
Explaining the matter, she said that the PM had taken a very comprehensive review of all grievances in the telecom sector.
“There are about five-and-a-half crore grievances that come every year, so, PM had reviewed what are the major problems people face, what problems people face in remote villages, rural and border areas,” the secretary said.
Further, the PM spoke about quality of service and gave detailed instructions on how the DoT should use some of the emerging technologies to tackle the problems that exist, she added.
Sundararajan said that the PM also suggested that the department should proactively reach out to customers so that the number of complaints come down.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) had worked in this area very actively in the last one year, giving five major regulations pertaining to the quality of service.
She said, the Trai regulations had made it easier for people to port, improved the actual quality of service norms by increasing the penalty, among others. “The department has also taken several steps but in the light of the PM’s directions we will further look into how to resolve this problem,” she said.
Analysing the reasons, Sundararajan said that merging telcos are harmonising their spectrum which would take another six months, and this was adding to the problem of call drops. Harmonisation refers to the process of making blocks of spectrum contiguous in order to increase the spectral efficiency.
Secondly, she said many operators were phasing out their 2G towers, and installing 4G towers, so nobody was making investments in 2G towers any longer, the predominantly voice spectrum, again exacerbating the call congestion on the networks.
And, thirdly, she said were infrastructure related issues. “Data is currently growing at 1300% and voice at 40%, but the growth in the infrastructure isn’t commensurate with the spurt in traffic on networks,” she said.
Telecom operators have said that while they are increasing capex spends to set up more towers, they continue to face issues at the ground level due to continuing right of way (RoW) challenges. Another problem causing problems with installing more towers is the radiation scare among consumers, they contend.