Call drop situation improving, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

Patna: Under attack from the Opposition on the call drop problem, Union Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday said that the situation was improving.

“There is a problem about call drops, but the situation is improving,” he told reporters.

“All the telecom operators have been told to take steps to improve quality of services,” Prasad said, adding that the telecommunications department had reviewed the situation on weekly basis for the past two months to reduce call drops.

He said that all the operators had been asked to find out ways to improve the telephony service in the country and DoT Secretary Rakesh Garg had spoken to the owners/operators of the service providers at the highest level.

Identifying shortage of towers as the main problem for call drops, Prasad said that a policy decision had been taken under which all buildings of Government of India must allow installation of towers, while the post offices too had been directed to allow towers on rent at its buildings throughout the country.

He said that he had also written letters to the chief ministers of states for installations of towers at the government buildings and noted that Kerala and Andhra Pradesh among states had done so, but regretted that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was yet to respond to the missive.

Referring to reluctance by people to allow installation of towers at their premises fearing that radiations from towers may lead to spread of cancer, the union minister said there was no truth in it citing reports by the World Health Orgnization (WHO) and judgements by various courts.

Regarding steps taken to improve call drop situation in Bihar, he said that his department had sanctioned installation of 1150 new 2G sites by the state-owned BSNL of which 620 had been installed, while 120 3G towers had been installed out of proposed 228 towers to improve 3G service in the state.

In addition, a BSNL’s experts team had visited Bihar four times in the past two months to find out call drop problems in order to take corrective measures to improve the situation, he said.

He said that even the telecom regulator – TRAI had come up with a report proposing hefty penalty to the operators in the event of call drop problems sustaining in their respective services.

Charging the UPA government with messing up with the BSNL during its decade-long rule as a result the state-owned operator sustained an accumulated loss of Rs 8000 crore in 2014 against a profit of Rs 10,000 crore that the preceding NDA government had left in 2004, the minister hit out at the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for holding him (Prasad) responsible for call drop problems.

“Nitish Kumar is in the company of those political leadership who had made BSNL suffer for a decade,” Prasad said.

The union minister said that taking serious note of call drop problems his department had carried out special audit of towers of private operators in Bihar-Jharkhand circle had found that out of 1,13,274 towers, the cells on 3037 towers were not found to be working.

Similarly, a leading operator had identified ten sites for towers in Patna and another 21 places for capacity addition in in order to improve its telephony service, Prasad said.

The BSNL too had set up internet-based next generation network at nine places in Bihar, including Patna to improve mobile and other telephony services, he said.

On demand to improve mobile service in the Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) areas in Bihar, Prasad said that 114 towers had been installed out of 184 proposed towers in LWE areas to improve policing.