Free calling no excuse for poor service, says TRAI chief
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairperson RS Sharma on Sunday said that telecom companies cannot sidestep accountability on poor service quality by citing free voice calls. The TRAI chief said most telcos offering free calls argue that since they are not profiting from the calling service, they cannot be punished for poor quality. Here's more on what he said.
Sharma made the statement while speaking on the third day of the Asia Economic Dialogue 2020 in Pune on Sunday. The three-day event was organized by the Pune International Center (PIC) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) at the JW Marriott in the city.
Telcos' argument incorrect; they're cross-subsidizing: Sharma
According to PTI, Sharma said, "Most of the telcos are offering voice free, their argument is that if something is free, how much can you (TRAI) punish me because I am not getting anything for that, which may not be correct because they are essentially cross-subsidizing." He added that "hopefully" the service quality will get better over time.
Indian telcos suffering since Reliance Jio entered market
Sharma's remarks come as telco subscribers across India complain of call drops. Reportedly, since Reliance Jio made voice calling virtually free, other telcos have lost their biggest income stream and are now running into losses. At the Asia Economic Dialogue, Sharma also spoke on how the lowest tariffs around the world may be the reason why Indian telcos are having a tough time.
Further, Sharma urged citizens to allow setting up of more telecom towers, adding that there is a misunderstanding about the towers leading to health hazards such as cancer. He pushed for last-mile telecom infrastructure to ensure faster connectivity in high-rise apartments. He also said that the upcoming 5G technology requires investment in infrastructure building, underlining the importance of laying optical fiber cable (OFC).
India to internationalize domestic e-payment systems
At the event, Sharma said that he has recommended to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to adopt a "digital diplomacy" strategy, wherein India would internationalize its knowledge on projects such as biometric ID or payment systems. Meanwhile, National Payments Corporation of India Chief Executive Dilip Asbe added that a trial payment through Unified Payments Interface (UPI) was carried out on Sunday at a merchant's end in Singapore.