It’s been cellphone hell for the past week for Hutch and Airtel subscribers at random points in the city. Calls get disconnected in the middle of a conversation, erratic signals drop to zero without reason, calls just won’t connect and messages won’t go through.
The reason for the “temporary” mobile mess in parts of the town is “a massive overhaul” of both networks. But last week’s pain is this week’s gain, promise the two cell operators, insisting that subscribers are hours away from a “return to normal”.
In the past few days, the cell twins have been optimising and adding to their sites — the beam base — to allow for better and more connections. While Airtel has been upgrading sites, Hutch has been adding them.
“We have added 39 sites this month,” explains Sunil Sood, chief operating officer of Hutch. “That means expanding our current capacity by about 20 per cent. So, some disturbance was bound to occur. Work has been on since May 1, and is now over. Things should be returning to normal.”
Airtel, however, admits to only a problem pocket in north-central Calcutta, where two new sites are coming up. “With incoming becoming free, traffic is growing in the area and a re-optimisation has been underway since Saturday. Things should be fine soon,” says Deepak Gulati, CEO, Bharti Mobitel. “We have invested Rs 28 crore in six weeks, across Calcutta, pushing up our capacity to a high of a million ‘busy-hour call attempts’,” he adds.
It is the tinkering with sites — all meant to improve services — that is largely responsible for the signal appearing and disappearing at will. But the Calcutta customer, it seems, has been suffering the cell-shock in silence, as both companies claim there have been almost no complaints at their call centres.