Telecom firms have requested for more time to apply stricter norms targeted at avoiding call drops, claimed the regulator. “They have not protested the new rules but they have requested for more time. They need to put in some networks. We will investigate their request,” claimed chairman of TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), RS Sharma, to the media in an interview.
In the new rules subjected on August 18, TRAI set fines of almost Rs 10 Lakh for each circle in a quarter on operators being unsuccessful to meet benchmarks for voice quality. The voice service quality will now be calculated at the base station level as an alternative to the circle level. The norms, effective from later 2017, are also targeted at guaranteeing coverage in under-served regions.
They mandate telecom companies to give Rs 1–5 Lakh, relying on the degree of the breach, in a quarter. Infringements in successive quarters will lead to 1.5x the fine charged in the quarter one and 2x that if they carry on in the quarter three, subject to a limit of Rs 10 Lakh in a period of 3 Months.
The stricter and new rules on call drops are destined to conquer a shortcoming in the previous technique of assessing performance of a network in a service region over a month, which might mask separate cell sites that worked poorly or not at all on particular days. Consequently, although telecom companies met quality norms, some users still complained regarding call drops, TRAI claimed.
Graded fines, which will be charged on new benchmarks of the performance at the base station level, will be imposed from next year, a quarter post the rules starts. The period of 3 months till December end will be utilized for investigations of call drop data that telecom companies give to the regulator, TRAI claimed.
On the other hands, carriers claimed that the new policies might add to the difficulty of norms. They claimed that the regulator must not blame telecom companies alone as various factors, comprising the number of consumers at a time on the network, users being outdoors or indoors, and problems with handsets, might be accountable for call drops.