Intro : Sufficient number of communication towers and adequate maintenance are necessary to curb this impasse faced by the customers.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to communicate on cellular phones these days. It may take a couple of attempts to get connected. When you are connected, the conversation is hazy and disturbed. If you are lucky enough to understand what the person at the other end is saying and vice-versa, you find that the call is suddenly disconnected leaving with incomplete conversation. The message that you want to convey is lost.
The mobile phone service providers claim that only 3 or 5 out of 100 calls the call drops, that is five percent of cases of call drops while the Telecommunication Authority of India has accepted a margin of only 3 per cent of call drops. As a user I can say with my own experience that the claim of the service providers is false and bogus. Any user of mobile phone can calculate the number of drop calls in a day and the figure would be astounding 20 to 30 cases of call drop in 100 calls. And this is not the case of Delhi or Mumbai; it is a pan-Indian problem. The smaller towns are worst hit by this menace.
How can we fix it? There are more than 9.5 crore mobile users in the country today. The figure increases every day as more and more people are added to mobile network. And with each addition quality of service deteriorates. Major mobile service providers in the country say that some 2 lakh more mobile towers are needed to be raised across the country in order to improve quality of service and reduce the number of call drops. At present there are only 4,25,000 mobile towers are working. This figure too is inflated. In reality, there are less than 4 lakh mobile towers since many people who had let out their space on roof top to install mobile towers have terminated their contract following reports that electromagnetic waves generated from the towers cause radiation which in turn poses danger of contacting dreaded disease like cancer. A random survey would show that the antennas have been removed from many still existing towers. Besides that, the major service providers whose earnings run into thousands of crores of rupees pay small amount to land and house owners for using their place to erect mobile towers. The service providers say that it costs them approximately 20 lakh rupees to erect one mobile tower. Recently, the service providers informed the Standing Committee of Parliament on Telecommunications and Information Technology that the companies were burdened with bank loans that ran into more than two lakh crores of rupees. They argued that they paid huge sums to the government in auction of 2G and 3G spectrums.
If you believe the figure given by the industry, the companies coughed up more than 1 lakh crores of rupees in the spectrum auction that ended in March this year. May one ask the service providers a simple question? Before bidding for spectrum, the companies must have made calculations and due diligence before buying spectrum. It is not as if they bid for and bought the spectrum to incur loss and gave the money to the government for some relief fund.
If you are going to catch a flight or a train and need last minute information about departure time, it is more than likely that you may end up trying to contact the airline or railway station and reach the airport or station only to find that you are flight has either taken off or is delayed by hours. So will be the fate of passengers travelling by train. There is no excuse to hold the mobile users or for that matter the country to ransom by refusing to improve services.
R K Sinha (The writer is BJP MP in Rajya Sabha)