The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has proposed that telecom service providers should compensate mobile phone subscribers for call drops and poor quality of service.
Trai said consumers have been raising the issue of call drops and poor service quality at various fora in the past one year, complaining that their experience of making voice calls has only deteriorated. They contend that they are unable to complete their conversations without their calls getting dropped during the course of a conversation.
''The consumers seem to be asking a simple question: "having paid for the service, why should I be denied a reasonable call quality?' '' Trai said in the consultation paper issued on Friday.
Trai noted that the problem of call drops in the country have only aggravated with the passage of time. In order to assess the situation, Trai, in June-July 2015, conducted special drive-tests on certain routes of Mumbai and Delhi. In the drive-tests, it was found that call drop rate of most of the telcos was higher than the benchmark of <2 per cent, set by the Authority.
The issue of too frequent call drops seems to have annoyed not only the consumers and businesses but also has become a major cause of concern for policymakers and parliamentarians. Essentially, the problem of call drops needs to be examined in its entirety and requires adoption of multi-pronged approach.
Trai on Friday floated a consultation paper, proposing among others that telecom companies forgo charges on dropped calls to consumers or compensating them by crediting talk-time or amounts in their accounts.
The regulator has proposed that any call which gets dropped within five seconds would not be charged, and in case a call gets dropped any time after five seconds, the last pulse of the call should not be included for the purpose of charging.
"Internationally, many TSPs in various countries offer a credit of talk-time for a dropped call to their consumers," it said, giving the example of some operators in countries such as the US, Bangladesh, Thailand and Pakistan.
"Considering the fact that the provision of credit of talk-time in consumer's account provides direct relief to the consumer, prima facie, it may be another option for providing relief to consumers against call drops."
The authority has sought public views on the proposal.
"It appears that a consumer relief measure against call drops would be effective only if it reaches the affected consumers.
Trai came out with the paper more than a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concerns on call drop problem being faced by consumers across country.
At present, Trai levies penalty on telecom operators who fail to meet service quality benchmarks. As per the rule, call drop should not be more than 2 per cent of all calls made on a network in a telecom service area.