Telecos show concern over sealing mobile towers, blame it for call drop issues

Mumbai High Court is likely to endure hearings on three cases under Justice V. M. Kanade on Monday. Interestingly, all these cases (Kiran Shantaram, former Mumbai Sheriff, vs Municipal Corp. of Greater Mumbai, PIL or Public Interest Litigation by a B-Town celebrity Juhi Chawla along with ten others Vs UI or Union of India, PIL by NGO named NAGAR vs Maharashtra State) share one common issue and that is multiplication of mobile towers in the state, Mumbai.

Whereas the capital of India, New Delhi, is facing issues regarding telecom companies rebuffing at MCDs act of sealing over 200 telecom towers during last two months.

A week back, as per reports from various sources, the PM of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, along with his whole cabinet, showed his concern towards constant call drops and stood in support for telecom department’s resolution to come up with corrective measures on the issue called ‘erring telcos’.

On this, the telecom companies countered that they are not to be solely blamed for call drops but rather the limited spectrum accessibility along with general populace’s fear of increasing health hazards through mobile towers. The undue interference of local governments, which as per BS Shantharaju, the head of Indus Towers, are treating them roughly, are to be held responsible for the issue.

The topmost telecom players including Reliance Communication and Idea Cellular declared that this fecund tower sealing by MCD has a direct influence on call drops. There will be 20% of increment in call drops on sealing every 40 sites. However, MCD has already sealed 70 such sites in Delhi.

An anonymous official from COAI claimed that the whole country is starving of the spectrum, and that is the cause behind the augmenting rate of call drops here.

The telecom companies are not able to serve well more and more consumers with this much spectrum availability, plus, the difficulty in erecting towers these days is working as salt to the wound.

The telecom secretary, Rakesh Garg, though, believes that telcos are actually not fulfilling its duties well. Where it could easily fix three out of four reasons behind this increasing call drop rate, the step is not being taken by them. Telecom operators, as per him, need to spend some cash on network optimization that will surely address the issue of call drops.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, the telecom minister, insists that instead of paying attention towards generating revenue through data services, the operators are expected and have been so instructed by the Government to look for improving voice services.

The audit, as per the minister, revealed that these operators are using available spectrum, meant for rendering better 2G and voice services, for providing 4G services.

Furthermore, the telecom minister argued that for better connectivity there is an emerging need to install towers. The bureaucrats’ areas like Lutyens and South Moti Bagh seem to possess only one tower (that RS Sharma, Trai Chairman, during his rule as secretary got installed with difficulty) because they don’t want them erected in their areas fearing risk of radiations.

A Mumbai-based activist, Mr. Prakash Munshi, exhibited his anxiety over the harms caused by the radiations emitted by such towers incessantly. He contended that his people are not against towers but definitely the ill effects of them.

He also dismissed the analysis made by World Health Organization (WHO) that stated that there is no apparent harm being caused by these radiations.

Mr. Munshi protested against telecom companies that install towers without following the few of the rules that have been stated by the Government regarding installation and got removed as many as 13 antennas out of 14 established over the roof of Sahyadri Guest House.

The government is taking serious steps towards the whole issue and has allotted 45 days’ time to the operators to solve the problem. With this, the government has also promised to help the operators get more space in government structures to erect their towers so that people can have wonderful calling experience.

Not just this, but, reportedly, the telecom department has already requested sundry chief ministries to take important measures to subside people’s undue fears regarding the radiations caused by the towers.

The great news followed by this has been the notifications that are to be released by DoT (Department of Telecom) regarding Spectrum sharing rules.

After a round of hullabaloo on the issue, the DoT, on August 12th approved the presumed spectrum sharing guidelines according to which, telecom operators would be able to airwaves more than they acquire through auction.

The regulating body is expected to make an avowal of feasible spectrum sharing rules within this week; however execution of trading regulations may face some delay.

Plus, the telecom operators who are allowed to acquire more spectrum through spectrum trading option have asked for further clarifications in this area of trading. The queries like the price at which they would be allowed to sell and the spectrum cap covering the limit on airwaves each operator can hold to offer wireless services, are yet to be answered by the DoT.

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