New Delhi: Indian mobile phone users can expect call drops to decline with the telecom regulator issuing stringent rules and prescribing a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakh per circle in a quarter on operators for failing to meet voice quality benchmarks.
In new rules effective October 1 aimed also at ensuring coverage in under-served areas, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Friday said telcos would need to pay Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh – depending on the extent of the violation – in a quarter. Violations in consecutive quarters will result in 1.5 times the penalty levied in the first quarter, and twice that if the violation continues in the third quarter, subject to a cap of Rs10 lakh in a three-month period.
The graded penalties – that will be based on new benchmarks involving taking readings at a more granular level compared to the circle-level approach used now–will be levied from January 1, 2018, a quarter after the rules kick in. The three-month period to December end will be used for observations of call drop information that telcos share with the regulator and weeding out violations, Trai said.
Telcos said the new guidelines would add to the complexity of rules. They said that the regulator should not blame telcos alone as there were other factors, including the number of users on the network at a time, subscribers being indoors or outdoors, and issues with handsets that could be responsible for call drops.
“Under the current rules, telcos need to pay Rs50, 000 to Rs 1 lakh for not meeting quality of service parameters, including call drops, with the threshold for fines being above 2% of all calls made. Under the new rules, telcos will be levied a penalty incrementally for not meeting call drop parameters set at five different levels – the first being above 2% and the last, above 11%.