NEW DELHI,SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT:Telecom operators in the country on Friday submitted a 100-day action plan to the government where they have committed to invest about Rs 12,000 crore in the next three months to set 60,000 new base transmitter stations, which enable mobile networks to connect, across the country.
Telecom Secretary J S Deepak also said that penal powers cannot be the only solution to the menace of call drops.
“The quality of service must improve and the industry has a responsibility. The figures are showing improvement but quality of service is still not satisfactory and needs to be improved. Every operator agreed to the need for urgent action. Operators said investment will not be a constraint for infrastructure improvement and network automation,” Deepak told reporters after his first industry review meeting that lasted for over two hours.
This meeting was attended by all CEOs of telecom companies, including Gopal Vittal of Airtel, Himanshu Kapania of Idea Cellular and Sunil Sood of Vodafone.
Asked about imposing penalties and jail terms for operators for poor quality of service, as suggested by telecom regulator TRAI, the secretary said that he was of opinion that no one should be sent to jail for a call drop.
“Efforts are required to improve services, business as usual cannot happen for sure…I am not sure that penal powers will be the one and final solution to this. I do not agree that for every call drop a person has to be sent to jail, even if he is a telecom operator,” he said.
The regulator, in its letter to the Department of Telecommunications, had sought powers to impose a fine of up to Rs 10 crore on operators and a jail term of up to two years on their executives for any violation of quality of service regulations. TRAI had earlier mandated that operators pay a compensation of rupee one for every call drops with a cap of three such calls a day. However, this was struck down by the Supreme Court. Almost all operators failed to meet the benchmark of less two per cent call drops in the test drive conducted by the regulator last month in the national capital region.
Mr Deepak said that the progress will be reviewed after three months.
Cellular operators association of India (COAI) director-general Rajan Mathews said operators have conveyed that they all are committed to make investments to arrest call drops. “Putting us behind bars isn’t going to solve the problem; it is better our engineers stay out and solve the problem,” he added.