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Telecom operators losing money due to call drops: Bharti Enterprises

New Delhi: Call drop is not only a loss for consumers but also for telecom operators as they invest thousands of crores in buying spectrum but are unable to use it for delivering services due to lack of mobile towers, Bharti Enterprises Vice Chairman Akhil Gupta said on Monday.

“Operators do not make money from call drops as there are per second billing plans. They are losing enormous amount of money and reputation from call drops”, Gupta said responding to queries at a FICCI event on Women entrepreneurship here.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has issued a new rule under which telecom operators will have to pay rupee one for each call drop that is limited to three complaints a day.

The telecom operators said that due to this rule, the penalty may be to the tune of Rs 54,000 crore annually, but according to the regulator, it will much less to the tune of Rs 800 crore per year.

The operators have been blamed by both the government and Trai for call drop problem, one of the reasons being lack of investment in infrastructure, Gupta said.

“You cannot expect industry to invest thousands of crores in spectrum and don’t utilise it by not investing in infrastructure. Why should someone who gets his bread and butter from telecom services would like to support call drop?” Gupta added countering the allegation on telecom operators.

Notably, Bharti Airtel on Monday announced to invest Rs 60,000 crore over three years on expanding networks that will help improve the quality of services.

ALSO READ: Here’s Airtel’s 10-point agenda for the Rs 60,000-crore Project Leap network plan

Gupta said one of the main hurdles in installing mobile towers is the protest from resident welfare association due to misinformation they have about the health hazard from radiation.
“This problem is mainly in Delhi. Calls cannot be made unless there are mobile towers”, he said.

Gupta said he chairs Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association, body of mobile tower companies, and sees complaints from resident welfare association for removal of mobile towers.

“If there would have been health hazard from mobile towers , why would me or Sunil (Bharti) Mittal have it installed on top of our houses. There is no evidence that shows there is health hazard from mobile towers. Even our telecom minister has openly said this. We are all trying to work on this issue”, Gupta added.

As per the recent data shared by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, call drop situation in Delhi has improved but still telecom operators are not complying with the benchmark set by Trai.

As per the benchmark, not more than 2% of the calls made on a telecom operator’s network should fail or disconnect automatically due to network-related faults.

Call drop on the network of the country’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel improved from the range of 2.92-17.77 in August to 0.08-2.98 at the end of October, as per tests conducted by the TERM Cell in Delhi on various roots.

Similarly, call drop on Idea Cellular network improved from 3.34-10.9 to 0.14-2.65, Vodafone 1.53-6.63 to 0.3-2.97, Reliance Communications 1.53-24.83 to 0.02-5.15 and Aircel from 0.77-6.21 to 0.29-2.66 during the period.