The prevalent call drop agitation took an interesting turn, as CEOs of top 6 telecom companies have grouped together to fight this menace.
In a rare display of teamwork, CEOs from these top 6 telecom firms have written a combined letter to DoT and TRAI, requesting them to stop sealing of towers, especially in New Delhi and Mumbai. They have directly blamed his tower-sealing drive for call drops.
This letter has been written and signed by: Gopal Vittal, JMD and CEO of Bharti Airtel; Himanshu Kapania, CEO of Idea Cellular; Sergey Savchenko, CEO of Siestema Shyam (MTS); Gurdip Singh, CEO of Customer Business, Reliance Telecom; N. Srinath, MD of Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) and Sunil Sood, CEO and MD of Vodafone India.
Addressed to Rakesh Garg, Chairman of DoT and R.S Sharma, Chairman of TRAI, this letter has a subject as: “Widespread and Arbitrary sealing of Telecom Towers and Pole Antennas (Sites) by all three Municipal Corporations of Delhi (‘MCD’)”
As per this letter shared by top CEOs of telecom firms, for every 40 tower sealed by the Govt., they witness an increase of 20% in call drops. They are complaining for the fact that in the last week itself, MCD had sealed 16 sites across Delhi-NCR region; meanwhile 70 sites were sealed last month, also mentioning Mumbai’s tower-sealing drive.
In total, the letter informs us, that 1700 sites have been sealed all over India in the last 12 months.
Telecom companies have directly blamed the tower-sealing drive initiated by Delhi Municipal Corporation (MCD) and other civic bodies for increased instances of call drops, as they said, “.. We are constrained to bring to your notice that despite your good efforts and intervention to assist the Operators deal with the issue of call drops, this continuing unilateral activity of the Delhi Municipalities of sealing our cell sites will cause increase in call drops and inconvenience to consumers.”
Via this letter, all 6 telecom companies have assured the Govt. that they are heavily investing in upgrading the technology and increasing their man power to provide better services; but “these actions (tower sealing) are making the entire effort and investment futile.”
The letter requests the Govt. to de-seal these towers immediately, as they have all the required licenses, permissions and even the required fees has been paid.
They said, “While we continue to seek legal redress and dialogue with MCD through COAI, AUSPI and TAIPA, we request your urgent help and intervention in de-escalating the situation. We request that all the sites which have been sealed in the last few weeks be de-sealed to ensure call drop issue is immediately improved.”
Meanwhile TRAI has assured that they will come up with their ‘Information Paper’ on call drops in the next 15 days. They are right now conducting their own survey regarding the call drop issue in metropolitan areas.
Radiation from Mobile Signal Towers: Health Hazard?
There is a great deal of ambiguity right now, on the issue of radiations emitting from mobile signal towers.
Delhi Medical Association, in 2013, clearly stated that there is no evidence to suggest that radiations from such towers can be harmful for humans. This statement was based on World Heath Organization’s study on the same subject carried across 13 countries.
On the other hand, last month, TRAI imposed a fine of Rs 10.8 crore on 11 telecom companies for exceeding radiation limits from their mobile towers; which also included fine on BSNL and MTNL.
In 2012, Mumbai has banned all mobile towers which were present near schools and hospitals.
While call drops is a huge inconvenience for mobile users, the health hazards associated with mobile towers cannot be completely ignored. Govt. should make sure that a full and final resolution be reached on this issue of radiations from mobile towers, and instruct MCD and other civic bodies from metropolitan areas to act accordingly.
We cannot blame the telecom firms for call drops, if towers are sealed at this rate; but we cannot take risks with the radiations emitted as well.
The ball lies in the Indian Govt.’s court now; and they will have to take a firm stand on this one.
You can read the letter sent by the CEOs of 6 biggest telecom companies here below.