‘Mobile Tower Emissions Well Within Limits in India,’ Says DoT Secretary

'Mobile Tower Emissions Well Within Limits in India,' Says DoT Secretary

Electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions from mobile towers in the country are much below the strict norms enforced by the Department of Telecom (DoT), a senior officer said in Chandigarh on Friday.

“There is no scientific evidence backing the claim that EMF radiation from mobile towers, which are below the safe limits prescribed by the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), can cause adverse health effects,” said DoT Secretary J.S. Deepak.

Deepak was addressing a gathering at an event organised in the capital to spread awareness about emissions from mobile towers.

“The DoT has already prescribed strict precautionary norms for exposure limit for the Radio Frequency Field (Base Station Emissions), which is 10 times more stringent than the existing limits prescribed by ICNIRP and recommended by WHO,” he said.

He maintained: “Our EMF norms are much stricter than what is followed by many developed nations, including the US, the UK and most parts of the European Union. The government has taken adequate steps to ensure that telecom service providers strictly adhere to these prescribed norms.”

Telecom towers are critical installations on which the backbone of wireless communications rest and unfounded apprehensions around EMF emissions and mobile towers have the potential to derail our growth story, Deepak pointed out.

DoT Deputy Director General R.M. Chaturvedi said that the WHO has referred to approximately 25,000 studies, conducted around the world over the past 30 years, and current evidences do not confirm existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields.

“A committee, formed at the behest of the Allahabad High Court, comprising experts from five IITs, AIIMS (Delhi), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, has also on the basis of scientific evidence, studies and reports available, found that there is no conclusive evidence about the stated dangers of EMF radiation from mobile BTS towers,” Chaturvedi added.

Several high courts, including the high courts of Punjab and Haryana, Madras, Kerala, Gujarat and Allahabad, in cases related to issue of effects of radiation from cellphone towers have given judgements and dismissed petitions, where the mobile tower installations were challenged in various localities, including residential, on grounds of health effects of EMF radiation, it was pointed out at the awareness programme.

Health experts Dr. Suresh Attili from Grace Cancer Foundation and Dr. T.K. Joshi, Advisor to Ministry of Health endorsed the fact that scientific studies have not been able to conclude that EMF emissions from mobile towers can cause health hazards.


Reliance Jio SIM in Demand as Thousands Queue Up Across the Country

Reliance Jio SIM in Demand as Thousands Queue Up Across the Country

  • Thousands for queuing up to get a Reliance Jio SIM
  • SIM comes with 3 months of free usage
  • This includes unlimited mobile data

There was been a lot of demand for the Reliance Jio SIM in the virtual world, as has been evident by the number of queries we’ve got on the subject in the last few weeks. This week saw the demand make its presence felt in the real world, with people queuing up in droves at Reliance Digital, Digital Xpress, Digital Xpress Mini stores, and other select retail outlets in the hope of getting their hands on a Reliance Jio SIM.

While calling tariffs in India are among the lowest in the world, mobile data continues to cost a premium, with just 1GB of 3G/ 4G data per month costing over Rs. 250 in most circles on popular operators like Airtel and Vodafone. This makes the demand for a Reliance Jio SIM – which is now available for all 4G phones at select outlets, but only for owners of smartphones by 13 manufacturers at others – understandable, as each Jio SIM comes with 3 months of unlimited calling, SMS, and most importantly, unlimited mobile Internet usage.

The SIM is available free of cost as Reliance Jio is still testing its network, a move that has upset the incumbent telecom operators, but users need to submit their KYC documents. Each Reliance Jio SIM also comes with access to Jio services like JioOnDemand and JioBeats.

 So while no one knows what Reliance Jio will charge for 1GB of data post its commercial launch – which is still a “few months” away – people are only more than happy to enjoy free data for 3 months. This explains the mad rush for these SIMs, as evident by these pictures:

 Reliance Jio – which is currently testing its network – is expected to do a commercial launch of its network in the ‘coming months’, according to Mukesh Ambani, Reliance Industries Limited Chairman. Ambani is said to have recently met Telecom Secretary JS Deepak to discuss rollout plans for Reliance Jio, which has accused incumbent players of not releasing sufficient interconnection ports during its test run of services.


Trai Asks Telecom Firms to Submit Daily Network Performance Update

Trai Asks Telecom Firms to Submit Daily Network Performance UpdateTightening the noose on mobile operators, the regulator Trai on Wednesday directed service providers to submit daily updates of their network performance, including call drops and voice quality.

The regulator issued directions asking telecom operators to “upload daily cell network parameters data to server of TCCMS (Telecom Consumer Complaint Monitoring System) portal of the authority through web-service within ten days of the date of issue of this direction.”

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) issued the direction on January 12 but made it public today.

All mobile service providers are required to submit number of performance parameters including type of network like 2G, 3G or 4G, call drop details, congestion in network, successful calls, voice quality, etc.

Trai and telecom operators have been at loggerheads over issue of call drops being faced by users. The regulator has issued regulation under which telecom operators are required to pay penalty of Re 1 for each dropped calls with upper limit set at 3 such calls in a day.

Telecom operators have challenged the regulation before court and the matter is sub-judice.

The regulator shared in the direction that it has held number of meetings with telecom operators between September- December 2015.

As per details shared in the direction by Trai, telecom operators did not submit required data on the website which monitors consumer complaint even after detailed discussion and clarifications.

Trai said that the data is required to streamline audit process of network performance which are done periodically to assess quality of service.

Trai Says No ‘Plausible Reason’ to Revise Spectrum Cap

Trai Says No 'Plausible Reason' to Revise Spectrum Cap

Sectoral regulator Trai Wednesday recommended that there is no “plausible reason” to change present restrictions on overall spectrum holding and in a frequency band.

Some of the mobile operators had sought relaxation in overall spectrum holding limit of 25 percent to 33 percent or 40 percent.

“The Authority recommends that existing provision of a cap of 25 percent of the ‘total spectrum assigned’ in 700/800/900/1800/2100/2300/2500 MHz bands and 50 percent within a given band in each of the access service area shall apply for total spectrum holding by each telecom service provider (TSP),” Trai said in its recommendations on base price for upcoming auction of seven bands.

In the consultation paper released earlier, Trai had sought comments if a cap on the spectrum holding within all bands in sub-1 GHz frequencies be specified and in such a case, should the existing provision of band specific cap (50 percent of total spectrum assigned in a band) be done away with.

Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal had sought relaxation of 25 percent limit, saying that some of the operators have 35-40 per cent market share but have to operate at a lower level due to capping. “You should liberally look at the spectrum cap issue,” he had said.

Trai said it finds “no plausible reason to change the present provisions of spectrum cap at this stage”, but added that it may review the spectrum caps in future, if need arises, based on development of market.

“On the issue of raising the overall cap from 25 percent to 33 percent or 40 percent, the Authority is of the view as the quantum of spectrum will increase significantly after the upcoming auction, overall 25 per cent quantity in terms of quantity will be large enough for the TSPs and does not warrant any change in the overall cap,” Trai said.

On the issue of specific cap on 700 MHz band, the Authority said spectrum cap provisions are enough to take care of concerns of concentration of spectrum in the hands of a few bidders and there seems no need to specify auction-specific cap in the 700 MHz band.

Trai reiterated that to calculate spectrum cap, all spectrum assigned to the TSPs including any spectrum which was put to an auction but remain unsold, spectrum which was assigned but subsequently surrendered by the TSP or taken back by the licensor and spectrum put to auction should be counted.

“However, in case the Government assigns such spectrum for any other non-commercial purpose e.g. assignment to Defence, the same will not be taken into calculation of spectrum cap,” it added.

Power Grid Q3 Telecom Sales Boosted by 4G Network Expansion

Power Grid Q3 Telecom Sales Boosted by 4G Network Expansion

An aggressive roll-out of high-speed 4G network by Indian mobile phone operators to tap the growing demand for internet services bolstered Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd’s sales in the December quarter, a company executive said on Thursday.

Power Grid, India’s biggest power transmission company, is the only utility in the country that has overhead optic fibre network, which is used for providing telecommunications services by carriers.

Revenue from its telecoms business in the quarter ended December 31 rose 46 per cent to Rs 110 crore ($16.1 million), while sales at its core transmission business rose roughly 24 per cent to Rs 5,240 crore, according to a company statement.

The company’s profit rose 31 per cent to Rs 1,610 crore.

Mobile phone operators, led by conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd’s telecommunications unit, are spending billions of dollars to expand their 4G network across the country to tap a rapidly growing demand for high-speed Internet services.

With more than 1 billion wireless users, the mobile market in India is second only to China.

Leading operators including Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular are investing more on infrastructure as they brace for competition with Reliance Jio, the unit of Reliance, which is planning to launch 4G broadband services later this year.

“We are the ones who are supporting them in national long distance backbone capacity … that’s why there is quantum jump in this quarter,” said Ashwani Jain, chief operating officer of Power Grid’s telecommunications business.

Mr Jain said the company had also seen a surge in demand from overseas IT and e-commerce companies in India, as they take up more fibre optic capacity on lease from the utility for boosting connectivity between major cities.

Google Partners Airtel, Other Operators in ‘RCS’ SMS-Replacement Initiative

Google Partners Airtel, Other Operators in 'RCS' SMS-Replacement Initiative

Google on Monday announced the launch of its Rich Communications Services or RCS initiative along with over 15 global telecom partners. The initiative will let operators “provide an open, consistent, and globally interoperable messaging service across Android devices.”

Some of the telecom operators who have struck a deal with Google include Bharti Airtel Ltd., Sprint,Telenor Group, Orange, Vodafone, and Telstra.

For those unaware, RCS is a new standard for carrier-based messaging that would feature group chats, high-res photo sharing ability, and more. As per Google, mobile messaging is falling behind modern messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Hike, WeChat, Viber, and Telegram. However, RCS is aimed to improve that.

The firm has not given a time-frame yet as to when it actually plans to bring the SMS-replacement service to Android. However, it has been mentioned that Google with operators will not bring the service immediately but will slowly ‘transition’ towards it over time. The company will be providing its open source Android-based RCS client, which will be based on the universal RCS profile in future. It might also come as a part of Android N.

“Messaging holds a central place in our lives, whether it’s coordinating a meet-up, sharing photos with friends, or sending thoughts to a loved one,” said Nick Fox, Vice President of Communications Products at Google. “Today marks an important step forward in bringing a better messaging experience for Android users everywhere, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with our partners across the industry to make this happen.”

Google last year already acquired Jibe Mobile, a team that would help it deploy RCS (Rich Communication Services) for Android.

Mobile operators can choose to deploy their own infrastructure for RCS or can use the Jibe Platform from Google.

As mentioned above, the carrier-based SMS service has seen a downfall ever since other Internet-based messenger services showed up. However, the service is still being used for receiving traffic alerts,activating or deactivating mobile Internet, train timing alerts, and more.

Top Telecom Companies Including Airtel, China Mobile Partner For 5G

Leading global telecom operators including China Mobile, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and SoftBank have joined hands to advance existing 4G technology and industrialization of 5G technologies. (Representational Image)

Leading global telecom operators including China Mobile, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and SoftBank have joined hands to launch five-year programme GTI 2.0, which aims to advance existing 4G technology and industrialization of 5G technologies.

“With the support and guidance of 5 Chairman/CEO from top operators, Sunil Bharti Mittal (Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises), Shang Bing (Chairman of China Mobile), Masayoshi Son (Chairman & CEO of SoftBank Group Corp), Chang-Gyu Hwang (Chairman and CEO of KT) and Vittorio Colao (CEO of Vodafone Group Plc), GTI 2.0 was officially launched,” Bharti Airtel said in a statement today.

GTI 2.0, a five-year strategic plan and mission, aims to continue to promote the global development of existing 4G technologies, TD-LTE and FD-LTE, encourage their convergence and to foster a cross-industry innovative and a synergistic 5G ecosystem.

In India, Bharti Airtel has launched 4G service on both the technologies. Reliance Jio Infocomm too has spectrum to deliver 4G services using both these technology but it is yet to launch its services. Aircel and State-run BSNL have launched 4G service on small scale using TD LTE technology.

Founded in 2011, GTI is platform of 122 operator members and 103 industrial partners. Industry has completed the GTI 1.0 mission by building an end-to-end TD-LTE ecosystem and achieving global commercialization of TD-LTE as well as converged network which uses both TDD and FDD LTE technology. By the end of December 2015, there were 76 TD-LTE commercial networks in 43 countries, and 91 TD-LTE networks in progress, with a total of 1.4 million TD-LTE base stations serving 470 million subscribers globally, the statement said.

“We have led the roll-out of TD-LTE in India and are confident that it will emerge as the preferred standard for evolving mobile technologies. We look forward to collaborating with the consortium partners towards developing technology ecosystem for the future,” Mr Mittal said.

China Mobile, world’s largest telecom operator said that it will fully support GTI 2.0 objectives.

“It is important for the industry to continue developing 4G and to work together to develop the standards for 5G technology ahead of its expected commercial introduction from 2020 onwards,” Mr Colao said.

Government Imposes Rs 323 cr Fine on Telcos for Violating CAF Norms

Government Imposes Rs 323 cr Fine on Telcos for Violating CAF Norms

The government has imposed fines of Rs 323.56 crore on telecom operators in nine months of the current fiscal for violating rules pertaining to verification of subscribers.

It has however recovered only Rs 62.15 crore from them.

“Total financial penalty imposed on different telecom service providers (TSPs) for violation of customer acquisition form (CAF) verification norms during current financial year 2015-16 (from April 1, 2015 till December 31, 2015) is Rs 323.56 crore,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply to Lok Sabha today.

He said a penalty of Rs 73.76 crore was imposed on BSNL, Rs 50.25 crore on Vodafone, Rs 43.73 crore on Tata, Rs 41.76 crore on Idea, Rs 40.20 crore on Reliance, Rs 38.70 crore on Airtel and Rs 1.44 crore on Uninor among others.

The government has recovered Rs 62.15 crore from the operators for the reported period, he added.

“Telecom Enforcement Resources and Monitoring (TERM) Cells carry out sample verification of CAF and related documents of the acquired customers, by all TSPs, which brings out non-compliant cases where DoT guidelines pertaining to verification of subscribers were violated by TSPs,” Prasad said.

The minister further said for non-compliant cases, TERM Cells impose applicable financial penalties on erring TSPs as per the guidelines issued from time to time.

Regarding a query on quality of service provided by operators, Prasad said sectoral regulator Trai has been monitoring the performance of service providers.

“Wherever the quality of service benchmarks are not met, Trai has also been imposing financial disincentives on service providers for failure to comply with the benchmarks, in accordance with the provisions of the regulations,” he said.

He added to create further deterrent against consecutive non-compliance with the benchmarks, Trai had recently notified

‘The Standards of Quality of Service of Basic Telephone Service (Wireline) and Cellular Mobile Telephone Service (Fourth Amendment) Regulations, 2015’ on October 15, 2015, providing for increased financial disincentive in such cases.

“The penalties amounting to Rs 10.70 crore has been imposed so far on defaulting service providers for not meeting the QoS benchmarks,” he added.

About 81,000 Complaints Against Telecom Operators in 2015

About 81,000 Complaints Against Telecom Operators in 2015: Prasad

Complaints against mobile service providers have increased to 80,947 last year, up from 68,691 in 2014, government said Wednesday.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Department of Telecom (DoT) received 57,634 complaints in 2015 compared with 50,197 in the previous year.

Meanwhile, complaints received by telecom regulator Trai increased to 23,313 last year, as against 18,494 in 2014.

The minister was replying to a question if there is an increase in the number of consumers’ complaints about bills, connectivity, mobile portability, harassment and so on against the mobile service providers.

“There is slight increase in consumer complaints against few mobile service providers,” Prasad said in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

According to data shared by the minister, there is an increase in complaints received by DoT against operators like Airtel, BSNL, MTS and Videocon. However, complaints against Idea, MTNL, Reliance, Tata,Uninor and Vodafone have declined.

Complaints received by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) against all telcos, barring Tata and Uninor, have increased.

On action taken by government, Prasad said complaints received by DoT and Trai are being forwarded to concerned service providers for their resolution.

“For effective resolution of consumer complaints, Trai has laid down the standards of quality of service parameters relating to time limit for fault repair, billing complaints, refund of security deposits and rent rebate for delayed fault repair,” he said.

Trai has been monitoring the performance of service providers against the benchmarks for these parameters through quarterly performance monitoring reports submitted by the service providers, the minister said.

“Wherever the quality of service benchmark is not met, financial disincentives are imposed so that the service providers improve their performance,” he said.

The minister said Trai has issued Telecommunication Mobile Number Portability (Fourth Amendment) Regulations, 2012, providing financial disincentives for unjustified rejection of porting request and for violation of timeline specified in the regulations.

“Government PSUs (BSNL/ MTNL) are using social media for receiving complaints and suggestions from customers for better customer satisfaction,” Prasad added.

MTNL Gets Rs 429 Crore For Surrender Of 800 MHz Spectrum

MTNL Gets Rs 429 Crore For Surrender Of 800 MHz Spectrum

State-owned MTNL on Thursday said it has received Rs 428.95 crore from government for surrendering spectrum in the 800 MHz band, used for providing CDMA mobile services in the country.

The government had approved to compensate MTNL, which telecom service provider in Delhi and Mumbai, for surrender of 800 MHz spectrum for Rs 458.04 crore.

“Government had approved compensation of Rs 458.04 crore to MTNL for surrender of 800 MHz CDMA spectrum out of which Rs 428.95 crore has been sanctioned for disbursal vide DoT letter dated March 28, 2016 and MTNL has received the amount in its account on March 30, 2016,” the company said in a filing to the BSE.

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had earlier said that MTNL, currently running into losses, is likely to turn profitable in the next fiscal.

MTNL had reported a narrowed down net loss at Rs 704.93 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2015.