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Following TRAI’s reports which showed top telecom players failing to meet certain QoS parameters, the regulator said that it would conduct more Independent Drive Tests in April, with more cities to be added. The decision to conduct further tests comes amid protests from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) which refuted TRAI’s tests with their own independent audit findings.

The drive tests were conducted in 7 cities over the period between June 2015 – December 2015 or January ’16; it measured telecom QoS standards including: Radio Frequency (RF) Coverage; Rx Quality; Call setup success rate; call drop rate, voice quality; blocked call and Carrier to Interference ratio.

The report shows top telecom players including Airtel, Idea, Reliance, and MTNL failing independent drive tests wherein Mumbai, Pune, and Bhubaneswar fared the worst, according to standards set by TRAI.

‘TRAI consulted with telcos before tests’

TRAI’s Chairman, R.S Sharma told reporters during India Digital Summit that the drive tests were conducted in a transparent manner. Sharma added that the TRAI consulted with telecom companies on what routes were to be considered for the drive tests, before even conducting them.

TRAI is open for more suggestions from telecom operators for upcoming tests that are to be conducted in the previous 7 cities, as well as newer cities, sometime in April, he added.

Falling standards of telecom services

TRAI issued a consultation paper in August last year, after it received several complaints from consumers about increasing call drops and falling voice quality. It also suggested operators to periodically discourse their network capacities and the steps taken to optimize their networks.

In October, TRAI ordered all telecom operators to pay Re 1 to compensate consumers for call drops staring January 1, 2016; the number of compensation per day was limited to three in a day. However, the telecom operators have challenged the order in court.

Pune seems to have had the worst telecom quality, according to the TRAI analysis. The Dropped Call Rate was set at just less than or equal to 2% by the TRAI. Though, the Dropped Call Rate in 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%.