Regulator mulls penalty for poor telecom services (Lead)

February 6th, 2009 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Feb 6 (IANS) The telecom sector watchdog is considering penalising telecom operators for below-par services, a top official of the statutory body said here Friday.The penalty could follow a telecom operator’s inability to provide voice and other services according to established standards relating to “quality of service to customers”, said Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman Nripendra Misra.

Talking to reporters after an open-house session, Misra said TRAI has already imposed financial disincentive on telecom companies for unsolicited communications.

“Once we see that the step has resulted in preventing such calls, we will go for financial disincentives on service providers who fail to adhere to any standard related to quality to service,” he added.

For mobile service providers, TRAI has set standards of 10 quality parameters including call-drop rates, service access delays, blocked call rates, percentage of connections with good voice quality, response time for customers for assistance and complaint resolution.

The telecom watchdog had Thursday asked mobile telephony operators to prevent network congestion and ensure calls by subscribers do not get disconnected abruptly.

Taking note of complaints regarding what are called “call drops”, TRAI wrote to telecom operators to ensure deficiency in service does not inconvenience subscribers.

It said consumers also suffer monetarily because of call drops.

In India, calls are charged on a minimum of 60 seconds pulse rate. If a call gets disconnected, for instance after three seconds, the customer still has to pay for the entire minute.

“Independent verifications of the quality of service of cellular mobile telephone networks carried out by the authority in the past confirm the validity of complaints,” TRAI said in its letter.

“The authority sincerely expects that your enterprise take necessary steps to reduce the incidences of call drops in the network and also to provide to the authority by Feb 28, 2009 the measures taken to improve voice quality and drastic reduction in call drop rate,” it added.

Misra, referring to the government’s proposal for a three-year lock-in period on the promoters of new licence holding companies, he said TRAI has sought the views of the players.

He said it has been alleged that some companies are making unearned gains through transfer of licences, and added: “We will communicate to the government our recommendation within the next two-week’s time.”

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