HomeNewsThe Rs 3050 crore question. Minister to meet telcos on Nov 1

The Rs 3050 crore question. Minister to meet telcos on Nov 1

While ostensibly to take stock of the work done to improve call drops, the TRAI fine is likely to loom large over the discussion.

Close on the heels of the unprecedented fine of Rs 3050 crore imposed on leading telcos including Airtel, Vodafone and Idea by TRAI, the communication minister is set to meet the CEO’s of the top telcos to sort out the issue.

“It’s a stock-taking meeting and also roadmap for the future,” Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak told reporters here on Friday on the sidelines of an event.

Deepak said the sectoral regulator – Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) – has informed that there has been a substantial improvement in call drop situation. Perhaps the beginning of moves to pull back on the stick from TRAI.

“We had a meeting in June, they (telecom service providers) gave us a 100-day plan. There has been, we believe, from TRAI figures lot of improvement in call drops. There were 54 networks which were not performing upto the standard in December 2015, and now it is down to only 19,” Deepak added.

The telecom companies had given a 100-day roadmap to the government in June to improve call drop situation.

“They assured that the target for the 100-day programme, as committed to the (telecom) secretary, will be met. They indicated that from the beginning of June 10 (when the 100-day programme started), there will be the addition of around 60,000 BTS (base transceiver station) in 100 days across the country, out of which 48,000 have been installed in the first 45 days,” Manoj Sinha said on July 25.

The service providers have committed Rs 12,000 crore to install 60,000 BTS to address the situation by arresting call drops.

It is pertinent to note that while technically, the issue with call drops is not linked to the refusal or lack of interconnect provided to calls originating in Reliance Jio’s network, for the end consumer, the impact is the same. A sub-optimal experience. Any effort to skirt that issue is likely to be interpreted as bureaucratic soft-pedaling or failure to confront the elephant in the room. Let’s see what we hear on November 1.

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