Indian telecom major Bharti Airtel has moved all its pre-paid subscribers to pay-per-second, ensuring customers pay only for the time they use the network. The move comes amid Telecom Regulatory Authority of India examining whether there are any tariff plans wherein call drops actually benefit the companies.
The issue of “call drops” – where phone connection gets broken or there is no signal midst-call has doubled in the last year, according to TRAI. This issue has turned into a blame game between the telecom operators and the government.
Spectrum – which refers to the radio waves that carry phone signals along with television, radio and all wireless communications – is a scarce resource that’s controlled globally by governments. India allows relatively little spectrum for mobile communications, and splits that up among a dozen operators. A lot of radio spectrum is blocked for defence use.
Towers act as boosters that help radio waves travel better, and are a necessary part of the telecom architecture in any country. Every day, the density of cellphone users in big cities is growing – and that’s leading to congestion.
In the last seven months, operators have installed 70,000 cell towers across India, and will have to invest in 100,000 more in the next two years to solve call drops. Telecoms say they aren’t being given access to enough spectrum or airwaves, and that more cellphone towers need to be installed.