One in eight mobile calls in India drops out __ ___ middle of your chat

Government tells telcos to spend more on their networks, offers to host cell towers

Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

India's department of telecommunications has hauled the nation's telcos in for a stern-talking to, because the nation's suffering an epidemic of dropped calls.

A report issued last week ((PDF) by the nation's Telecoms Regulatory Authority found that one in eight calls on 2G networks drops out, while calls on other networks also fail to meet the nation's 0.5 per cent drop out target.

India has tried to regulate call dropout rates, to satisfy frustrated locals who often find themselves interrupted in ___ ______ __ conversations*.

India's telcos have tried hard to comply and contend that sharing spectrum with the military makes their lives hard and that the move from 2G and 3G to 4G always brings some hiccups. Carriers also contend they've written colossal capex cheques of late, but the government counters that counting spectrum access costs as capex is a bit dodgy and a better way to assess network investment is to look at outlays on new equipment. The government also contends that India's carriers aren't exactly the most diligent network optimisers of the telco world.

Carriers respond by pointing out that the nation's overlapping planning laws at national, State and local level don't exactly make it easy to put up more cell towers. With Indian use of mobile phones surging, the current fleet of cell towers is sorely taxed, but the national government rejects tower shortages as the reason for recent increases in dropped calls.

A detente of sorts has now been reached, with a recent meeting resulting in promises from telcos to install micro-cells to address black spots and pay more attention to network optimisation. The national government has pledged in-principle support for its buildings to be used as homes for new cell towers.

All of which shows that ideas like Google's Loon balloons and Facebook's giant solar laser drone aren't mere flights of fancy, because connecting the next million is tough work on the ground. ®

* Hey readers! Have fun by filling in the blanks! Okay, you get the gag. Won't do it again.

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