TRAI issues stringent guidelines to cellular service providers to curb call drops

Telecom department officials say the reluctance of operators to invest in infrastructure is one of the reasons for poor call quality

Telecom department officials say the reluctance of operators to invest in infrastructure is one of the reasons for poor call quality

"Graded financial disincentives in case service providers fail to meet the DCR (drop call rates) benchmarks have been introduced, in which amount payable may depend upon the extent of deviation from the benchmarks", the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said.

The penalty amount will be imposed if the operators are unable to meet the benchmark set for the quality of service in two quarters. Changing the measurement levels from circle level to tower, TRAI increases the penalty from 1 lakh to maximum 5 lakh on the violation.

Revised methodology for assessment of Drop Call Rate (DCR) will be on percentile basis instead of existing basis of average call drop.

Previously, penalty on call drop norm violation was Rs 50,000 per violation.

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The financial disincentives will be fixed depending upon the extent of deviation of providers from the defined parameters. "Under new rules, we are taking into account temporary issues that may be there in the network as well as a geographical spread of the network", Sharma said. TRAI issues regulations on various subjects like internet connections, Call drop, tariffs, Direct to home (DTH) services and mobile number portability.

The new rules will come in effect from October 1.

"Averages hide a lot of things".

The call drop should not exceed 2% for 90% of telecom towers for an operator for 90 days in a circle. Industry body Cellular Operators' Association of India's (COAI) director general Rajan S Mathews said that the amendment has made the benchmarks more stringent with a shift in methodology towards a cell-wise measurement.

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In worst affected case or busy hour of the day, not more than 3 per cent of call drop should be registered on 90 per cent of mobile towers in a telecom circle.

He said that the quality of service available from a network is dependent on a number of extraneous factors which may not only be environmental such as the number of users accessing the network at that time, area covered by the base station, whether the customer is indoors or outdoors etc.

RLT is used for continuation of a call in case a subscriber is moving or is in base network area for short period.

Mathews added that issues such as right-of-way and misinformation regarding EMF emission are also major problems preventing telecom operators from accessing crucial sites for setting up telecom towers.

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