Responding to supplementaries during the Question Hour in Lok Sabha, Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday said during calamities, only state-run telecom operators provide free services to subscribers. But soon there was a voice of objection, saying private operators also extend free services. It wasn’t from the Opposition, but of a ruling BJP member in the House.
Many in the Opposition were, in fact, taken aback to see how BJP Rajiv Pratap Rudy countered his own senior colleague. Prasad, however, asserted that while private companies provide free services only for a couple of days, BSNL and MTNL provide free services till the calamity is over.
Rudy also claimed that often BSNL/MTNL calls drop but they are charged for. He said since the companies are state run, when people do not get network, they end up blaming the government.
Some opposition members said Rudy should be made the minister to improve the state of affairs. He was a minister of state in the previous Modi government.
Prasad said it is important that state-run companies are in a good fiscal health. He also said call drop can occur due to many reasons and is common in mobile networks across the world.
The minister, however, said that telecom service providers (TSPs) should ensure that call drop rate in their mobile networks remain within the benchmarks laid down by regulator Trai.
"Call drop in a mobile network can happen due to many reasons including characteristics of radio propagation for wireless communications, non-availability of sites due to acquisition problems, sealing of sites by local authorities due to fear of electro-magnetic fields from mobile radiations etc," Prasad said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.
He said call drop is common in mobile networks across the world with varying degree of occurrences. According to Trai rules on quality of service, call drop rates in 90 per cent of mobile cell sites should be less than 2 per cent for 90 per cent of days during assessment period in a telecom circle.
Also, at least 90 per cent of cells in the network should perform better than specified 2 per cent benchmark on at least 90 per cent of days.
Prasad said the government has taken several initiatives to facilitate infrastructure growth including notification of Right of Way Rules 2016.
(With PTI inputs)