Airtel Initiates ‘Open Network’ Under Project Leap
NEW DELHI: India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel has come up with its mobile network information about network coverage, signal strength, and network site deployment status on this Wednesday to gain trust of its customers at a time when telecom operators are facing problems of call drops.
The announcement was made through an advertisement named ‘open network’. In the advertisement, Bharti Airtel asks: “Are we the best network we could possibly be? Honestly and humbly, no”.
In the advt Airtel said it has decided to become India’s pioneer to provide “open network” giving access to our towers maps, internet strength, signal zones right away to home of home.
The information can be accessed through the Airtel app or website. However, experts and industry officials said that the initiative won’t change things on the ground, even though Airtel’s CEO Gopal Vittal called it “paradigm shift” in the way of interacting with its users.
“How does it change things for Airtel’s users – we don’t know. It seems to be aiming more at the regulatory environment,” said Rajat Mukarji, Idea Cellular’s head of corporate affairs.
The government has been lowering down on call drops, and has told that call drops shouldn’t account for more than 2% of all calls made from a particular network.
Another communications head of a national telecom operator agrees with Mukarji. “This changes perception towards a brand – of course people get carried away with openness but it doesn’t change service,” he said.
An Airtel person also said that nothing will change on the ground – just that it helps users to know what the condition of the network is and any issue can be reported to Airtel.
But can’t users call the customer care of Airtel if there is a connectivity issue? The user can, and an Airtel executive pays a visit. That doesn’t change – even after opening the network, the same executive will visit you.
The network was opened seven months after Vittal wrote a letter to Airtel’s customers on November 15 that the company will make its services better. That was also the beginning of Project Leap, where Airtel committed that it will spend Rs 60,000 in three years. It has spent Rs 15,000 crore, so far – all to upgrade its network.
Airtel is not the only company to throw on infrastructure.
Vodafone India, being a part of Project Spring, has spent Rs 18,000 crore ($3 billion) on upgrading network, last year.
The network condition in India remains a big problem. In Bhopal, every other operator except Airtel and Vodafone have failed to meet the government’s call drop norm. That’s because in India networks operate at over 95% utilization, while the global average is 70-80%.