Irony of Indian telecom industry

Indian telecom sector which is growing rapidly, not just by the virtue of Jio but also because it is the need of the hour. Rise in the number of mobile phone penetration and decline in the data cost has added 200 million plus new internet users in the past 2 years. These numbers can amaze you but wait, the story doesn’t end here. There is a huge gap between the reality and the fairy tale. Indian telco’s have already started moving towards ‘5G’. Brands like Airtel, have already started 5G testing. but the harsh and bitter reality is totally upside down.
Let’s come back and talk to the most ironic fact about Indian telecom industry. As per a DoT news published in ET telecom (dated July 25th 2018), “All telecom service providers are requested to try their best to redress the grievances well within the time frame as specified in Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) regulations or within a month time as desired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister. If any case is taking more than specified time of one month, then proper reason/ explanation of delay and expected time to redress the grievance should be intimated to the complainant and a downloadable copy of intimation may be uploaded to CPGRAMS,”

Now the billion dollar question is why the DoT has to release this order. Is it making sense to have such poor telecommunication services in India when we are talking about the Digital India? It would have been much better if the Telco’s have paid some prior attention to improve their customer experience without any reminder.

Current status and reason behind poor services in Voice and Data
So let’s find out the actual problem behind the higher number of complaints:

An independent news source mentioned earlier in feb 2018, India has 218Mn Smart phones and 182 Mn plus 4G subscribers. And it is expected to have 800 Mn VoLTE Subscribers by 2023. These numbers are sufficient enough to beat the race with USA and China. All and all it’s only about running behind the number of customers instead of improving the existing infrastructure and focusing on the retainership. Unfortunately every telecom company has similar target. According to an online poll conducted in 2017 around 35 present people said every 4th call was dropped while 25 present said every 2nd call were dropped. Even TRAI set the strict rules for telecom companies who failed to meet voice quality benchmarks. The number of call drop issues is increasing day by day.

Data services is another vital part of the telecom which is struggling to breathe properly too. Around 80-85% data traffic is being captured by 4G LTE. But India is yet to experience a reliable high speed 4G LTE/VoLTE network. In fact, 4G speed in India is worst in the world (approx 6 or 7 Mbps average). If you compare with other countries, it’s not even a perfect 2G network. Countries like Singapore, Netherlands & Norway have around 40 mbps 4G Speeds. One very important thing should be noticed here, the poor connectivity is not limited to the remote areas, it is even the reality of tire 1 & 2 cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon & Bangalore etc. In last few years, public Wi-fi networks/hotspots has started taking place in India followed by Google’s initiative to provide hi-speed wi-fi connectivity to 500 railways stations across India. But it has many gaps such as time limit, browsing limit, speed limit and most importantly the download limit. Hence the user has no choice left but to face the poor connectivity. This is happening when India is growing rapidly in IT sector and everyone knows the DATA is the blood and bone both for the information technology industry.

Referring to another news published in The Times of India dated June 30, “Leading telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, have committed to investing over Rs. 74,000 crore to upgrade and expand their infrastructure to address the issue of call drops” . But the actual story is just opposite. Sources says on behalf of the companies who provide the infrastructure, the telecom companies are either not willing or being slow to invest in building fresh infrastructure. And the existing setup is way too poor to bear even the 50% of current load. Telecom experts says cost cutting is one of the major reason behind the Vodafone idea merger.
Can we expect some improvement in near future?

With the launch of Jio Gigafiber, we can see there is a new ray of hope but what is the guarantee that it will not be limited to another race of jumping in to the next level to beat the competition without even proper preparation. The Government will soon plan auction of the 5G spectrum in bands like 3,300 MHz and 3,400 MHz but the question remains the same, are these telco’s prepared/upgraded their setup to opt 5G when they can’t even run 3G/4G successfully.
Either this industry is in a big financial mess or they are simply not focusing where they should focus. It looks hilarious when they even ignore the orders/advisories given by TRAI or DoT. These regulatory bodies are also equally culprit because they never took any action. And the frustration of a customer goes higher when they refuse to give any kind of compensation/remuneration against their poor services. They have automated system to track the customers whose billing date exceeds and send the auto reminder but they don’t have any similar mechanism to send a feedback call even once in year. DoT must set some guidelines on this too.

We can only hope for a dream day when we will have strong connectivity to experience Digital India in real sense. Till then keep enjoying “Hello… Hellooo..”

Actually, Vinay is a writer by chance and writing is one of his passion. He love to pen down his thoughts in the form of blogs/articles & forums. He is a poet too :) Despite having a tough life, he is also passionate about the social relationship and he loves to interact with the new crowd across the globe.

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