Priscilla Jebaraj

Cell One users in some areas are complaining of poor signal

  • Users in Pattabiram, Thiruninravur and Avadi are sufferers
  • Focus must be on quality, not quantity: activist

    CHENNAI: A rise in the number of Cell One users in several northwestern suburbs of the city has led to more traffic than the stations of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited can handle. Cell One users in areas such as Pattabiram, Thiruninravur and Avadi have been complaining of poor signal quality for almost a month now.

    Constant "error in connection" and "network busy" messages are making customers irate. "I have to try at least 10 times before I get through," says N. Purushottaman, a resident of Pattabiram. Call dropping is another common problem and recharge requests also fail to get through. K. Chandran, BSNL Deputy General Manager in charge of customer care, says efforts are being made to enhance the capacity of the base station in Pattabiram to cope with increased peak hour traffic. Within 10 days, the BSNL will also redesign the load-sharing pattern between nearby stations.

    But the cell operator says it cannot do this kind of "balancing act" in Thiruninravur, which actually lies on the other side of the border in the Tamil Nadu circle. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India does not permit load sharing among stations in different circles. "SIM card sales are very high... [Because] Chennai Telephones has special schemes and offers, people in the border areas buy Chennai SIM cards, but actually use their phones across the border in the TN circle," says Mr. Chandran.

    This causes a sudden sharp increase in the customer base. "We are monitoring daily traffic to see if this is a temporary phenomenon," he says. If it is permanent, the BSNL will take action and build more towers, he promises.

    T. Sadagopan, a consumer activist in Tiruvallur district, says the focus must be on quality, not quantity. "The BSNL must not allow the growth of its customer base to impact the quality of its service to existing customers," he says.