Call drops: Airtel promises 'self-regulation'
In an attempt to protect its customers from call drops and improve its services, Bharti Airtel has said that it will implement 25% more stringent mobile call drop benchmark than prescribed by the industry regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
"This self-regulation on quality of service further underlines our commitment to our customers despite the challenges of limited spectrum availability and acquisition of sites in urban areas," Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel said. The company will report its 'Quality of Service' data and the amount calculated on a quarterly/annual basis to ensure transparency.
Bharti Airtel said it has decided to apply this standard benchmark across the country despite the constraint of difficult operating conditions in some areas, in particular, hilly regions such as Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and North East.
Airtel's move has come a day after the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday struck down TRAI's regulation in making it mandatory for telecom companies to compensate subscribers for call drops saying it was "manifestly arbitrary" and an "unreasonable restriction" on the fundamental rights of telcos to carry on the business.
The apex court, comprising justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman, in its verdict on Wednesday, said, "We are afraid that the orderly growth of the telecom sector cannot be ensured or promoted by a manifestly arbitrary or unreasonable regulation which makes a service provider pay a penalty without it being necessarily at fault," according to PTI.
At present, TRAI has prescribed on an average 2% penalty on call drops per month. The telecom regulator had framed the rule in October last year. As per the rule, the telecom companies (call originating service provider) were to pay consumers Rs 1 for every call drop with the penalty capped at Rs 3 per day. The new rule was to come into force from January 1 this year for six months on a trial basis.
Airtel's mobile network in India serves over 250 million mobile customers and it covers approximately 96% of the country's population.
At 14:38 hours, the shares of Bharti Airtel were trading up 0.77% or Rs 2.75 at Rs 362.20 per scrip on the BSE.