All top private telcos to blame for call drops
A Parliamentary panel headed by BJP MP Anurag Singh Thakur has held all major private telecom operators responsible for the recent harassment of common consumers due to the call drop phenomenon. In a unanimous report presented to both Houses of Parliament on the second last day of the Session, the committee said that one of the major reasons for call drops is that most service providers did not meet the benchmark for ensuring better services to consumers. For better services, telecom operators are supposed to install the Base Transceiver Station (BTS), a type of network equipment that facilitates wireless communications between a device and the network. The panel also observed that in case of the worst affected cells with more than 3 per cent drops, the service providers did not meet the benchmark in 16 License Service Areas under 2G for the quarter ending December 2016 (Aircel in 11, BSNL in one, TTSL (CDMA) in one, Telenor in two and Vodafone in one). In case of 3G, the same happened in the worst affected areas.
The committee reported that the major limitation of the mechanism of average assessment is that it does not provide information about disparities in performance between different areas or cities such as rural or urban areas. The method of assessment of call drops and averaging the service areas as a whole does not give a realistic picture of services quality, as factors such as population density, vehicular traffic, hilly terrain etc are not uniform across a licence service area, the panel pointed out.
In spite of claims by telecom operators that their performance on call drops is well within telecom watchdog Trai's 2 per cent benchmark, increasing complaints on call drops have been confirmed by several test drives conducted by the regulator from time to time.
The committee feels that there are critical gaps in the quality of service parameters which need a review. A technical paper on call drops in cellular networks issued by Trai observes that the electromagnetic factor is responsible for 51.4 per cent call drops while 36.9 % are attributable to consumer faults. However, the House panel was not convinced by these argument. On the contrary, it said that while holding consumers at fault, Trai has not undertaken any specific study to identify the factors that are responsible.