New Delhi: Cellular operators on Monday told Delhi High Court that TRAI's call drop compensation regulation was a "knee-jerk reaction", which penalised them without proving any wrongdoing.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for telecom companies, made the submission before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, which will tomorrow commence hearing arguments of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) defending its decision.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) and 21 telecom operators, have challenged TRAI's October 16, 2015, rule mandating them to pay consumers one rupee per call drop experienced on their networks, subject to a cap of Rs 3 a day.
Terming the regulation as "arbitrary and whimsical", Salve contended that providing compensation to the consumers amounted to interfering with the companies' tariff structure and this could be done only by an order and not a regulation.
He said the telcos were not breaching licence conditions, as under it, they were required to maintain 90 per cent coverage and two per cent call drops were exempted. He said the new regulation was a "parallel regime" running along with the quality of service rules.
Salve said the telcos across India had a consumer base of one billion and as per a technical paper of TRAI, 36 per cent of call drops were due to irregular use by consumers.
"Therefore, even if 30 per cent call drops occur, it would mean we have to pay Rs 3 to around 300 million customers, which would amount to Rs 90 crore a day," he said.
Salve and senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who also appeared for the telcos, said that less number of mobile towers were responsible for call drops, but they are unable to install more, as over 100 permissions from various authorities are required to set up even a single tower.