Delhi High Court grills TRAI on call drops fine

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HC asks: Is telcos paying fine to users the only solution to reduce call drops?

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the telecom regulator whether telecom companies paying compensation to subscribers for call drops was the “only solution” to reduce call drops. The court asked if the regulator had considered all the objections raised by the telecom operators before passing the October 16 order, which makes it mandatory for companies to compensate subscribers for call drops.

A bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said, “The objection of the service provider does not reflect on the measures taken. Where is the application of mind? Was it the only solution?” the bench asked Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).” It added, “You (Trai) could have done a graded increase in compensation.” The matter is now posted for further hearing on January 11. Telecom firms and its associations filed the petition against the Trai’s order on call drops.

The telecom regulator had earlier told the High Court that it will not take any coercive steps against telecom companies for not complying with the call drop compensation norms till the January 6. The court, however, said it may pass an interim order on the issue on January 11. The court had observed that if service providers were begin compensating consumers for call drops as per the new Trai regulations, it won’t be possible to recover them if the rule was set aside in future.

Additional solicitor-general (ASG) P.S. Narasimha, appearing for Trai, said the order was taken after consumers started complaining about frequent call drops. He said the telecom companies have not made enough investment on technology and infrastructure which could prevent call drops. He opposed the stay on the implementation of Trai’s call drop compensation order saying it was meant to make the telecom companies “fall in line”.

In first quarter of 2015, about 25,787 crores outgoing call were made through 12 service providers, out of which in 200 crores cases call drops were encounters by consumers. This is 0.77 percent of all call made, Mr Narasimha told the High Court adding that service provider made about Rs 36,781 crores during the period. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the telecom companies, argued that under the Quality of Service regulations two per cent of call drops are exempted.