All the mobile operators, both GSM and CDMA, without exception are way below the TRAI benchmarks on various aspects of user satisfaction, according to the "3rd Annual Voice and Data-IDC Mobile Users' Satisfaction Survey".
In the overall category, BPL emerged the numero uno with an overall satisfaction score of 79.8 per cent. Idea Cellular came ahead of Hutch marginally by 0.2 per cent to take the second position.
No CDMA service provider figures in the top five, and this should be attributed to their relatively newer operations in comparison to the GSM players.
Tata Teleservices has topped among the CDMA players and is followed by BSNL.
In the overall category, Reliance lies towards the bottom of the table with scores of 69.3 per cent and 67.9 per cent in CDMA and GSM respectively. Bharti is the only integrated service provider which features in the top five.
Overall, the survey points out that all service providers are currently lacking on all the fronts, vis-à-vis the TRAI benchmarks, and that too by huge margins in many cases.
The survey also found out that for a majority of the mobile subscribers, network quality is the top criteria when it comes to choosing a service provider, with 70 per cent of the respondents saying that it was important. For 29 per cent of the respondents, it was the single most important criterion for choosing a mobile service provider.
Almost 55 per cent of respondents said that they had problems while making or receiving calls or were not getting adequate signal strength in their areas/cities/circles.
Another eight per cent complained of problems with the voice quality echoing, interference, and cross connection.
In overall network availability, none of the operators have achieved the TRAI benchmark of 95 per cent and even the best operator lags by a huge difference of 15.8 percentage points.
BPL Cellular topped network availability with a score of 79.2 followed by Aircel with scores of 78.9 and Idea with scores of 78.1.
This shows that smaller operators may not have added a lot many new subscribers, but their networks are better than those of larger operators with more subscribers.
As far as overall sales and presales satisfaction go, even the best service provider falls short of the benchmark by 8.5 per cent.
On the billing satisfaction front, most service providers continue to languish way below the TRAI benchmark.
Contrary to popular belief, the overall billing satisfaction of the incumbent operators is higher than that of private service providers.
According to the TRAI, billing errors should be 0.1 per cent per month.
But the Voice&Data-IDC survey found out that around 9 per cent respondents have had billing problems with their current service provider. This figure is on the higher side.
In billing disputes and complaints, Reliance had the highest number of complaints, an average of 24 complaints for every 100 subscribers, which is quite alarming.
The nationwide survey was based on a sample of 2,217 GSM and CDMA mobile users spread across 14 cities including all the four metros.
About 82 per cent of the respondents were GSM subscribers and 18 per cent were CDMA subscribers, selected on the basis of subscriber figures in September 2003.
The prepaid vs postpaid ratio was maintained in the sample according to the subscriber ratio kept at 62.38 because of the absence of a prepaid category in CDMA at the time of the survey.