Assocham bats for telecom operators, says it’s unfair to blame them for call drops

Assocham India spoke out in defence of telecom operators in the country today, claiming they cannot be the only ones blamed for call drops. The organization said there are many critical factors causing the problem and the telecom industry is not in control of all of them.

Elaborating on the body’s stand, Assocham Telecom Council chairman, T V Ramachandran, noted that once a network has been established, there are two main factors causing call drops – inadequate spectrum allotted and lack of cell towers in a region, resulting in low signal coverage. He further said India suffers from both these issues.

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Cities like Mumbai and Delhi are the focus of his concern. According to TRAI data, 523 sites in Delhi and 801 sites in Mumbai were closed down over the past 6 months, with 25 being shut down in the latter city each week. They were shut for reasons ranging from radiation concerns to issues with government municipalities.

One deactivated tower would affect almost 700 subscribers, in addition to the performance of the half-dozen towers surrounding it. According to Ramachandran, operators are not being allowed to set up new towers because of unjustified concerns over EMF exposure. He claims civic administrations make the problem worse by refusing to grant the necessary permissions.

Also See: Government to conduct special audit of mobile networks over call drop issue

The chairman went on to praise Communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and the Department of Telecom (DoT) for consulting with the Ministry of Urban Development and announcing an initiative to allow government properties to be used for setting up cell towers. He further said the government should carry out spectrum reform to allow for more of it to be available to operators.

Assocham claims the amount of spectrum allotted to each operator is not enough for them to function. As per their data, the total bandwidth released by the government is only half of what the norm is elsewhere. The problem is further compounded by there being more telecom companies in India than in other countries.