Telecom industry writes to government on tower sealing

New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) As operators and the government trade charges over the call drops issue, three main associations of the telecom industry on Tuesday wrote to the telecom secretary to express concern over the “arbitrary” sealing of towers in the national capital.

“Irrespective of the fact that we have represented to the Commissioner, SDMC (South Delhi Municipal Corporation) and other DMCs requesting them to issue necessary instructions to de-seal the telecom towers and not take any further coercive action of sealing telecom towers, these are still being sealed. In the last two days, 10 sites were sealed by the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi),” the letter stated.

The letter was jointly written by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUTSPI) and Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA).

The letter said that the sealing of cellular towers was being done arbitrarily without specific provisions or bye-laws under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act “as pointed by the Delhi High Court and despite the fact that the matter is pending for adjudication before the high court”.

Earlier in the day, Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg said the government had asked the sector regulator, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), to find a solution.

He said a few telecom companies were offering free calls to compensate for call drops and TRAI had been asked to vet the option to see if it could be replicated by other operators also.

Garg, whom the telecom operators met on Monday, said TRAI had been asked to examine tariff plans of telecom operators as well.

“It was brought to your notice in the meeting scheduled yesterday (Monday) with the industry on the issue of call drops that due to arbitrary and illegal sealing of telecom towers by the MCD, call drops have become the order of the day, resulting in inconvenience to the general public at large,” the letter further added.

The government on Monday asked telecom service providers to optimise allocation of resources to address the call drop issue and rejected the operators’ claim that it was linked to the national tower policy.

“Tower issue is miniscule. This can’t be seen as a major reason for call drops. Telecom companies need to optimise resource allocation. We will work on finding solution for setting up towers on government buildings or land,” Garg said on Monday.

“There is no linkage between call drops and tower policy. There was no policy earlier but call drops did not happen. The problem has arisen in the last few months. They have to find a solution within the existing norms,” he added.

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