TRAI issues consultation paper on call drops

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a Consultation Paper on compensation to the consumers in the event of dropped calls for comments of the stakeholders. Call drop represents the service provider’s inability to maintain a call once it has been correctly established i.e. calls dropped or interrupted prior to their normal completion by the user, the cause of the early termination being within the service provider’s network.

In the past one year, consumers, at various fora, have raised the issue of call drops, complaining that their experience of making voice calls has deteriorated. In order to assess the problem, TRAI, in the months of June/ July, 2015, conducted special drive-tests on certain routes of Mumbai and Delhi, in which, it was found that Call Drop Rate of most of the telecom service providers (TSPs) were higher than the permissible limit of ~2% set by the Authority. TRAI has prescribed financial disincentives on TSPs for failure to meet the quality of service benchmarks (including call drop) so as to strengthen the effectiveness and compliance of the regulations.

TRAI is of the view that the problem of call drops needs to be examined in its entirety and requires adoption of a multi-pronged approach. It is also considering to make it mandatory for the TSPs to make periodic disclosures about their network capacities and the steps taken to optimize their networks to address the problem of call drops. On the lines of Independent Drive Tests (IDT) undertaken in the cities of Mumbai and Delhi in June/July, 2015, the Authority would be conducting such tests across various cities in the country.

While all these steps are being contemplated, the Authority cannot remain a silent spectator to the problem of call drops encountered by the consumers. In this background, TRAI has issued a consultation paper on the issue of call drops and various possible methods for compensating the consumers for call drops, namely: (i) Provision of not charging for the dropped calls (a) consumers should not be charged for a call that got dropped within five seconds (b) In addition, if the call gets dropped any time after five seconds, the last pulse of the call (minute/second) which got dropped should not be charged. (ii) Provision of providing credit to the consumers for dropped calls (a) Credit of talk-time in minutes/ seconds, or (b) Credit of talk-time in monetary terms.

This is the gist of the press release issued by TRAI on 4th September, 2015. Call drops are rampant not only in closed areas inside office complexes but also while walking in the open in areas such as Churchgate, Nariman Point etc. While on the one hand TSPs allege that call drops are a direct result of the dismantling of the various towers atop residential buildings due to radiation fears, there is no direct or causal link between the telecom towers and cancer arising out of radiation from these towers.

The consultation paper is available on the TRAI website.

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