The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Solved: Mobile call puzzle, not problem

New Delhi, Oct. 14: Now Trai and we know why mobile phone calls aren’t going through or are getting disconnected in the middle of a sentence, but the telecom watchdog doesn’t seem to have an immediate remedy.

An “alarming” degree of clogging at the point of interconnection (PoI) between different service providers blights the world’s fastest growing telecom market, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said today.

“In a number of cities, the level of congestion between the networks of different operators is far more than the notified benchmark,” says Trai’s report for June and July.

According to the benchmark, not more than 0.5 per cent — one out of 200 — calls made between two networks should face congestion problems. These refer to instances when you can’t reach a number, or can’t hear the other person, or get disconnected midway.

Trai can do little about it because there is no law to punish operators who don’t do enough to minimise the problem. Officials said the watchdog has asked the government to enact such legislation.

The report says Reliance Communications (including Reliance Telecom, which operates GSM services) had a congestion figure of 204, followed by Bharti Airtel at 158, in July. The figures represent the number of times, over and above the benchmark, that callers faced congestion problems.

Say, 100,000 calls were made from Reliance numbers to numbers on other networks. The 0.5 per cent cutoff means 500 instances of congestion are allowed. The figure of 204 would mean 704 (that is, 500 plus 204) calls faced clogging.

The state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited has emerged the most efficient operator with zero congestion.

Private operators today blamed lack of proper interconnection with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, the country’s largest telecom operator, for the high congestion levels.

A Trai official, however, said: “The PoI congestion is on account of inadequate (number of) junctions between networks.”

Service providers put this down to the growth of the subscriber base outpacing that of infrastructure.

“With millions of customers being added every month, the problem is expected to aggravate,” said Pankaj Mohindroo, president, Indian Cellular Association. Most service providers, including Reliance, Bharti Airtel and Hutch, echoed him.

Trai said overall congestion had fallen from 616 in May to 537 in July. But the congestion among private operators had risen compared with that between private operators and BSNL.

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