Govt no to ombudsman for telecom sector



Govt no to ombudsman for telecom sector New Delhi: Government on Thursday ruled out setting up an ombudsman to redress complaints of poor mobile telephony services like call drops saying state-run BSNL/MTNL were taking effective steps to upgrade technology.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Telecom Sachin Pilot said while the telecom revolution has led to India having one of the world's cheapest call rates, it has also led to congestion in network leading to call drops.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd are taking effective steps like upgrading technology and putting in more efforts to improve quality.

"The direct answer to his question is no," he said when asked whether Government will set up an independent ombudsman to address complaints like call drop.

Telcom Minister A Raja said the per second metering of call, recently introduced by major mobile telephony operators, is to ensure that consumers are not made to pay for full one-minute when the call may not have lasted more than a few seconds because of call drop.

He said he was "not bothered" about companies' losing revenue in the per-second billing as long as consumers are benefited.

The Government was providing a level-playing field to public and private telecom operators, he added.

Pilot said tele-density or number of telephones per 100 persons, has increased from 9 per cent in 2005 to 44 per cent now. In metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai, it is more than 100 per cent but is just 16-18 per cent in rural areas.

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will set up 10,000 towers by March 2010 and 15,000 towers by March 2011 to improve mobile telephony services.

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund - a corpus created from 5 per cent revenue that companies earned from providing mobile telephony services in cities - will be used to increase rural tele-density and provide wireless broadband connections in villages.

On the issue of profitability of BSNL as compared to private companies, he said the state-run firm was saddled with three lakh employees and one-third of its revenue went towards meeting staff cost. In comparison, the largest private telecom company may have 20,000 employees consuming 5-8 per cent of total revenue.

BSNL, he said, had a market share of 77 per cent landline telephones, 60 per cent in broadband connections and 13.3 per cent in mobile telephones. The decline in the market share has been arrested during the past 12 months and the company was increasing marketing activity.

PTI