April 25, 2024

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has sent out a fresh direction to telecom service providers (TSPs) to provide granular quality of service (QoS) data, pegged at the district and state levels, officials said.

Currently, TSPs submit QoS data as per License Service Area (LSA), commonly called telecom circles. India has 22 telecom circles, many of which do not correspond with individual state boundaries. Case in point, Uttar Pradesh has two circles (East and West), while Maharashtra and Goa are a single circle.

Even as a large number of consumers complain about poor quality of experience, the performance averages out for the entire telecom circle, officials pointed out. “But this often gives a different picture about QoS than what a customer experiences, with many areas or localities within the service area with significantly worse service. Meanwhile, the operators continue to mostly meet the benchmark for most QoS parameters,” a TRAI official said.

But the move has met with resistance from telcos who say it is not possible to compile the data. “The data monitoring system has evolved as a system which measures data along telecom circles. That is presented to the government. It is not possible to go into the district level that easily. The entire system has to change,” a senior official from a private telecom operator said.

QoS has remained a priority for the regulator, with Trai Chairperson Anil Kumar Lahoti naming call drops as a key area of his focus after taking charge in January.

Undergoing updation, QoS norms currently include network availability, accessibility of connection establishment, ease of connection maintenance, and point of interconnection congestion, with a series of sub-parameters. TRAI has set minimum benchmarks for these, over a one-month period in a fixed telecom circle.

Tightening Parameters

The TRAI Act, 1997, authorizes the regulator with exclusive powers to ensure QoS, conducting periodic reviews, and protecting consumer interests. It had last launched a consultation paper reviewing network-related QoS for cellular mobile telephone services back in 2016.

However, despite attempts to rectify the issue, the government had been unable to act on it based on the existing parameters, officials pointed out. TRAI monitors the performance of various services provided by TSPs by collecting a performance monitoring report (PMR) on a quarterly basis. It also conducts audits to assess the performance of TSPs in respect of the prescribed QoS benchmark through independent agencies.

Officials said TRAI will also call a meeting on the issue next month. In their past meetings on the issue, the TSPs have cited factors such as poor quality of handsets, rampant usage of unauthorized signal boosters and jammers, among others, affecting the user experience.

The availability of sites at desired locations, government establishments, and public places, and exorbitant charges by certain civic bodies towards infrastructure creation, which affect the effective rollout of infrastructure and quality of service, have also been flagged by the industry.

First Published: Apr 02 2024 | 12:22 AM IST