New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) will now conduct operator-assisted audits of networks across India to ensure that they meet quality of service parameters, including the vexed problem of call drops.
The assisted audits will be in addition to independent tests that Trai conducts to measure quality of service.
“We have introduced operator-assisted test drives along with conducting independent test drives and we have now requested telecom operators to assist us,” said a senior official at the telecom regulator, requesting anonymity.
Trai will conduct five ‘test drives’ in Jaipur, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata.
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Due to start in the first week of February, they will test operators for call setup success rate, blocked call rate, call dropped rate and signal strength.
“All the licensed operators in the given area will assist us in the tests and this is an attempt to increase number of tests to ensure better quality. We will complete the tests by March and the results will be published on the website,” the official added.
The independent test drives were to be conducted by Trai in 12 cities across India in December, but were delayed because of problems with hiring third-party audit agencies. The official, however, assured that the independent test drives will also start in February.
The previous round of test drives were conducted in June by the regulator across 12 cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bhopal. According to the regulator’s quality of service norms, no more than 2% of calls on a telecom operator’s network should get automatically disconnected but most operators failed to comply with the norm across these cities because of poor network coverage.
Involving operators is an important step in addressing the quality of service problem, said Mahesh Uppal, a telecom consultant and director at ComFirst.
“To involve operators in conducting test drives will impart authenticity to tests and the results will be better accepted by both the sides. This reflects the fact that Trai recognizes the need for monitoring of service with operators’ concerns about its measurement,” Uppal said.
Telecom companies had earlier contested Trai’s findings, alleging that the test method adopted by the regulator was flawed. After the results were published in June 2016, telecom operators committed to a 100-day action plan to resolve the dropped call issue and promised an investment of Rs12,000 crore to improve network infrastructure. The companies also promised an additional Rs20,000 crore investment in over a year to improve the quality of service.
“Once Trai has data from tests on wider agreement, it should be able to come up with a way to deal with appropriately designed solution,” Uppal said.