The penalty amount would be as high as Rs. 2 lakh if the operators are unable to meet the benchmark set for the quality of service in two or more subsequent quarters, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) said.
The penalty will kick-in if call drops in a quarter average more than 2 percent of the total traffic in a telecom circle.
"The proportion (incidents) of non-compliance in case of customer related parameters are more than that of network related parameters. Hence the Authority has decided to impose identical structure of financial disincentive in both cases," Trai said in a statement.
As per the rules, call drop, availability of mobile towers, time taken for a call to connect, network congestion, voice quality and network related issues feature in the Trai's service quality parameters.
Consumer-related issues include complaint redressal, refund of wrongly charged money, access to call centre etc.
As per existing norms, there is a penalty provision of up to Rs. 50,000 for the first violation and Rs. 1 lakh for subsequent failures in case of network related quality parameters. However, with regard to consumer-related issues the penalty was capped at Rs. 50,000 for each violation.
Now for the first time violation of service quality benchmark, the fine has been increased to Rs. 1 lakh.
If telecom operators fail to meet the benchmark on the same parameter further, a penalty of up to Rs. 1.5 lakh for the second violation and Rs. 2 lakh thereafter.
"The Authority feels that these measures will act as a sufficient deterrent against prolonged non-compliance and will further improve the quality of service in a time-bound manner," the regulator said.
Trai has found no significant improvement in the call drop issue in Mumbai and Delhi as operators are lagging on various fronts in meeting the standards.
Commenting on the matter, Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said, "The whole industry is focussed on call drops issue. Have assured the Telecom Minister about measures.
We will wait for final call taken by the DoT on compensation.
The government is in process of giving companies more sites for towers."
"Before the recommendation is implemented, the root cause of the call drop should be analysed. For example, lack of sufficient towers in the service area, strict radiation norms which are stringent than the global norms, spectrum issues, etc, must be addressed," Deloitte Haskins & Sells LLP Partner Hemant Joshi said.
Earlier in a statement today, Trai said that in Mumbai, no operator is meeting the benchmark while in Delhi three top players Airtel, Vodafone and Aircel are found to be lagging in offering good quality services.
As per data shared by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), call drops on network of Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices have improved in Delhi.
However, problem on Aircel and Vodafone network has further deteriorated in the national capital. Airtel has improved the quality but it is still far away from the set parameters.