Telcos Must Pay For Call Drops – Delhi High Court; COAI Will Now Move To Supreme Court
In a landmark judgement, Delhi High Court has upheld TRAI’s directives on call drops, and ordered telecom firms to compensate all users for call drops. After this judgement, telecom companies would be required to pay Re 1 for every call drop, with Rs 3 being the maximum compensation which one user can claim in a day.
Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath passed this order while hearing an appeal by telecom companies against TRAI’s directives related to call drops. Last October, TRAI had directed all telecom companies to compensate users for dropped calls, and telcos had approached HC against this order.
This case against TRAI’s order on dropped calls was petitioned by Cellular Operators Association of India, a body of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India and 21 telecom operators, including Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Reliance.
In December, we had reported that call drops have increased by 25%, and TRAI had demanded strict action. In case any telecom company refuses to pay for the call drop, then TRAI will take strict action against them.
The bench from Delhi HC said, “We uphold the validity of (TRAI’s) regulation”, adding, “There is no dispute about the power of TRAI to make regulation under section 36 of the Act. The impugned regulation has been made in exercise of the power conferred under the Act, keeping in mind the paramount interest of the consumer,”
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) are obviously disappointed. Last year, they had claimed that TRAI’s solution for call drops (Re 1 /call drop) will bleed them by Rs 54,000 crore, and they had even threatened to increase mobile tariffs.
It seems COAI will now move to Supreme Court challenging the order.
Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said, “We’re disappointed with the order, we will have to see the details of the order to take a call on filing an appeal (in the Supreme Court),”
Some telecom companies have termed this order from TRAI as ‘knee-jerk’ reaction, and “arbitrary and whimsical”, as they contended that this order cannot be practically implemented.
Some telecom firms had argued that call drops are a direct result of tower sealing drive, and stopping this exercise will improve call quality as well. Meanwhile, Airtel and Idea silently migrated pre-paid customers to per-second billing, so that call drops have less impact on their financials.
But it seems that the recent Delhi High Court order has made things clear for telcos: Either improve call quality or compensate users.
We will keep you updated as more details come in regarding Supreme Court appeal against this order.