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Anagh Pal, Outlook Money | May 16, 2007
At the end of February 2007, the cellular subscriber base in India was 162.53 million, up from 84.88 million a year ago. Before you rejoice, consider this: a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India customer satisfaction survey for the quarter ending 31 December 2006 has found that only seven licensed operators, out of a total of 129 (5.43 per cent), meet the benchmark for the overall customer satisfaction level.
The same figure at the end of 31 March 2006 stood at 10, out of a total of 105 (9.52 per cent).
Conducted by an independent agency, the survey studied 4,197 subscribers, who were asked 30 questions based on seven parameters.
The survey proves that in the rush of adding customers, operators have ignored customer services. In the metros, only four operators - BPL, Bharti, Reliance Communication and Tata (all in Mumbai) - and three in the A circles - Reliance Communication, Hutch and Tata (all in Andhra Pradesh) - met the benchmark.
In B and C circle cities, none made the mark. Only 15.50 per cent crossed the network performance benchmark, while 6.8 managed to clear the mark for helpline services.
The billing situation was comparatively better, with 48.76 per cent (postpaid) and 81.40 per cent (prepaid) of the operators making the grade. Trai says the survey is aimed at protecting the "interest of consumers and improving the quality of service". However, the exercise seems to serve little purpose, as the earlier surveys have had no effect.