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Telcos commit Rs 740-bn investment into infrastructure to curb call drops

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said Bharti Airtel invested Rs 160 bn on infrastructure and will be spending an additional Rs 240 bn on the network

Kiran Rathee  |  New Delhi 

phone call
A man talks on his mobile phone while walking on a road in Kolkata (File photo: Reuters)

As the problem of call drops continue to irk consumers, mobile operators have committed to invest over Rs 740 billion for upgrading the existing infrastructure and also expand the network capacity.

As per Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan, has committed to invest Rs 500 billion to install 100,000 towers in the coming fiscal whereas Bharti Airtel, which has invested Rs 160 billion on infrastructure and will be spending an additional Rs 240 billion on the network.

Others, including and Idea Cellular, will also increase the mobile sites but the operators have not given an investment figure as the merger process is going on.

Sundararajan, who met the top executives of telecom companies on Tuesday, to discuss about call drops, said the operators have raised the issue of non-availability of sites for installing mobile towers.

Although the (DoT) and sectoral regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is taking the issue of call drops seriously but still the problem persists mainly because of huge traffic and growth of data at much faster pace.

The Secretary said as per analysis presented by mobile operators, the call drops have stabilised but other problems like fading of voice calls have increased due to various issues, including some mobile phones not complying with required certification norms.

"They (telcos) raised the issue of illegal repeaters installed in networks (which) are creating interference and affecting call quality. We will look into enforcing rules more stringently," Sundararajan said.

The vigilance arm of DoT will look into issues of non-compliance raised by telcos.

Sundararajan highlighted the issue of network traffic which is huge in India. She said telecom operators informed her that in India, around 400 callers' use a mobile tower during same time whereas in countries like China and others this average is in the range of 200-300. "They are now discussing with equipment makers to handle this kind of issue," Sundararajan added.

Also, data usage continues to grow at 20-25 per cent every month but along with data, voice traffic is also growing two-times, which has increased the load on the networks.

The mobile operators have to invest in network at a much faster pace because of growth in data and voice. Both voice and data in India are growing very fast due to cheap tariffs and plans, many of which come bundled with unlimited calling and 1 GB data every day.

The entry of has fastened the pace of voice and data growth. However, the networks of operators are finding it difficult to handle the humongous traffic leading to call drops and slow speed of data.

has also asked mobile operators to report the network related data for checking quality under the new benchmarks. The regulator is likely to release the data in next few days regarding network quality under the new benchmarks, which were released last year.

Under the revised rules, to measure the 2 per cent benchmark for call drops, will see if 90 per cent of the base transceiver station (BTS) or mobile towers are working properly for 90 per cent of days.

First Published: Tue, January 30 2018. 19:28 IST