by Salman SH
After the first instance of TRAI’s plan of action to keep call drop under control, the regulator has stepped to release a detailed analysis of network performance of top telecom service providers in 7 cities including Delhi and Mumbai. The new report was published after conducting ‘Independent Drive Tests’ across a 600 Km route for Delhi and Mumbai; and a 300 Km route for the other cities.
Several drive tests were conducted over the period between June 2015 – December 2015 or January ’16. According to the assessment report, telecom operations in Mumbai, Pune, and Bhubaneswar have not met certain quality requirements with Quality of Service declining exponentially, when compared to the rest of the cities in terms of Radio Frequency (RF) Coverage; Rx Quality; Call setup success rate; call drop rate, voice quality; blocked call and Carrier to Interference ratio.
In October, TRAI had ordered that all telecom operators will have to pay Re 1 to compensate consumers in case of call drops. However, consumers’ ability to get credit into their accounts due to call drops is limited to three in a day. The new regulations were supposed to be effective from January 1, 2016, but telecom operators have challenged the order in court.
The telecom regulator had issued a consultation paper on call drops in August following numerous complaints from consumers. The consultation paper also suggested mandatory periodic disclosures for telecom operators on their network capacities and the steps taken to optimize their networks.
Some notes from the test:
Assessment in Mumbai
While looking into the Mumbai test area, most telecom operators including Reliance(2G), Tata(2G), MTNL (2G, 3G), Airtel(2G, 3G), Aircel (2G), and Idea(2G) have performed poorly according to the TRAI. Reliance(2G) recorded a Blocked Call Rate of 22.67%, which is the highest among all operators during January 2016, wherein the permissible limit was less than 3%.
The Dropped Call Rate of MTNL(2G, 3G) and Tata(2G) in Mumbai were found to be above an alarming 10% during January 2016, although the permissible limit was just less than 2%. Additionally, Idea, Airtel, Aircel, MTNL ,and Vodafone also fared utterly in terms of Dropped Call Rate wherein the highest rate was recorded at 15.58% for MTNL (3G), and 10.98% for Tata (2G) during January 16.
Assessment in Delhi
While taking a look into the capital Delhi, MTNL’s 2G and 3G services have seemed to deteriorate with blocked call rates peaking at 24.81% (2G) and 23.65% (3G); dropped call rates of MTNL stood at 9.49% (2G) 6.92% (3G) during January 16. Other operators have comparatively improved during the test period, according to the TRAI.
Assessment in Pune
Pune seems to have had the worst telecom quality, according to the TRAI analysis. The Blocked Call Rate as of December 2015 for Tata(3G) was recorded at a whopping 36.73%; Airtel (3G) at 17.01%; Idea at 15.90%; Vodafone(3G) at 10.76%. Remember that the permissible limit is set at just less than 3% by the TRAI.
While, the Dropped Call Rate for Pune during Dec ‘15 for Tata(3G) was recorded at an alarming 42.93%; Idea(3G) at 20.96%; BSNL(3G) at 11.64%; Airtel(3G) at 7.91%. Remember that the permissible Dropped Call Rate is set at just less than or equal to 2% by the TRAI.
The falling standards of the top telecom operators calls for an immediate action plan, suitable remedies and standards need to be set by regulators after carefully evaluating both global and domestic performances. As we can learn from the report that most operators’ performances are well over expected standards, the TRAI and DoT could pressurize telcos to either pay regulatory fines or reimburse customers for poor quality service.
COAI and AUSPI wants TRAI to withdraw tests
Telecom lobbies Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) refuted TRAI’s tests with their own independent audit findings. The telecom bodies in their letter to TRAI chairman RS Sharma also demanded that the test results by the regulator be taken off the website.
“The results published on Trai’s website do not represent the actual performance of our network, which would be clear from the fact that there is wide disparity in the results of the QoS parameters as per drive tests done by some of our members and shared with the Authority,” letter added.
The letter also said that TRAI ignored requests of member operators to share drive test log files and also not considering its views on the mode of conducting such drive tests.