The Department of Telecom (DoT) has told telecom service providers to improve quality of service, and for this purpose focus should be on improving capital expenditure and optimising resource utilisation.
At a meeting held under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Department of Telecom, with the CEOs of Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) on various issues related to call drops were discussed, according to a government press release issued on Wednesday.
A presentation was made by the industry claiming to have made investment of Rs 1,34,000cr, out of which Rs 24,000cr was for capital equipment with a CAPEX to revenue ratio of 73 per cent against global coverage of 12-18 per cent.
DoT mentioned that Rs 1,10,000cr was towards the spectrum acquired through auction and hence cannot be counted towards investment for reinforcement of infrastructure by way of installing towers and base stations. If this expenditure on spectrum is taken out, it is only about 13 per cent. It was stressed that the operators need to augment the infrastructure by way of additional towers and base stations in order to address the issue of call drops and quality of service, the released said.
The operators also pointed out that there is a technological shift in the usage spectrum, whereby now more data is being used as compared to the voice and there is a shift from 2G to 3G/LTE services. They also mentioned that call drop is a worldwide phenomenon whenever such transformation takes place.
However, DoT put forth the argument that when such transformation is taking place, it is expected that the telecom companies should take necessary steps in advance to meet the challenges. They must optimally allocate the resources for various services in all the frequency bands, i.e. 800MHz/ 900MHz/ 1800MHz/ 2100MHz and 2300MHz, so that customers do not suffer. Thus, the contention of change in traffic pattern and technology migration as a major reason for call drops is not tenable.
During their presentation, service providers requested to declare the telecom services and the infrastructure as essential services, expedite spectrum harmonisation, adopt uniform rules for towers and row across the country, permit installation of sites on government land/ building and cantonment areas, apart from additional spectrum being made available for mobile services.
It was informed that operators are already aware of the fact that the Hon’ble Minister for Telecommunications has already addressed Chief Ministers and Ministers of Urban Development to allow installation of towers on government lands and buildings. “Subsequently, consequent to the meeting of Telecom Secretary with Urban Development Secretary, it has been decided in principle to allow installation of mobile towers in government building subject to technical feasibility and the operators should provide in-building solution for better coverage,” the release read.
It further added that some state governments have already finalised policy for towers.