India’s telecom regulator TRAI is now banking on user surveys to keep a check on voice call quality offered by telcos. It’s new ‘My Call’ app allows TRAI to crowdsource call quality information via feedbacks from users using a rating system. The app pushes pop-ups after every call, asking the user to rate the call out of 5. This data can be viewed on a map on real time basis, allowing users to compare call quality of their service provider using crowdsourced data from nearby users.

The app also provides historical and summarized feedback data, allowing users to rate a call from the past. The rating system also allows users to point out call drop instances and provide additional feedback such as background noise or audio delay. TRAI says that the data collected from users will be anonymous and not linked to users. The data can also be used for performance monitoring and as a public feedback data repository, TRAI added.

Although the app might serve as an indicator of quality of service (QoS) offered by service providers, it cannot be seen as a fix for call drop issues in India. Especially, when there have been allegations of artificial PoI blockade, which led to a significant increase in call drops between Jio customers and incumbents: TRAI had imposed a collective fine of Rs 3050 crore on Airtel, Idea and Vodafone in October last year for this. DoT is yet to approve the penalty.

This incident is different from the earlier call drop issue which affected most operators in the country in 2015 and up till early 2016. After over 10 million mobile complaints between January and March 2016, TRAI then came out with two different consultation papers to fix the issue:

-In August 2016, it issued a consultation which mooted setting up of an independent authority to deal with mobile complaints made by consumers, after which it issued recommendations on the same in March. Here is a summary.

-TRAI had then come out with a different consultation in October during the Jio call drop issue: “When two telcos fail to mutually negotiate the terms and conditions of interconnection, should a standardized interconnect agreement be made mandatory?” the regulator asked in a consultation paper.

Consumers yet to be compensated for poor quality service

But as we pointed out before, consumers are still facing bad service quality, and are left without any compensation or alternative for it (the SC struck down TRAI’s suggestion of Re 1 for every call drop in May 2016). The call quality testing app might indicate a problem within networks. But it only makes a difference when telcos actually meet QoS norms and are penalised for violations, while affected consumers are compensated appropriately by their service providers.