Telecom regulator TRAI has called a meeting with telcos on February 17 to discuss measures and action plan for improving service quality, review of norms, benchmarks for 5G services, and unsolicited commercial communications.
The meeting assumes significance as improvement in telecom service quality is bound to cheer mobile customers, irked by call drops and patchy networks. It also comes at a time when ultra high speed 5G services are rolling out across the country.
So far, as many as 200 cities in India have seen launch of 5G services, the next generation of technology that promises turbocharged speeds (about 10 times faster than 4G) and low latency connectivity.
Issues around service quality have been in the spotlight over the last few months. The Telecom Department back in December met operators to discuss rising instances of call drops and service quality-related issues, as it deliberated on policy measures that can be considered for improving call quality.
In a statement on Thursday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said that quality of service (QoS) improvement “is an ongoing exercise, it requires close assessment and monitoring especially with the fast-paced network expansion and introduction of latest technology like 5G.” Accordingly, TRAI has called a meeting with telecom service providers on February 17, 2023, “to discuss measures and action plan for improvement in QoS, review of QoS standards, QoS of 5G services and unsolicited commercial communications”.
India, the world’s second largest smartphone market, had over 114 crore mobile subscribers as of November 2022. Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea are the key players.
TRAI monitors performance of various connectivity services provided by telecom operators by collecting Performance Monitoring Report (PMR) on quarterly basis. The PMRs are published on the TRAI website, and the regulator also conducts audits and assessments to gauge the performance of the service providers in respect of the prescribed QoS benchmark.
“Regular interactions are held with concerned stakeholders through meetings, consultation papers and open house discussion to review the status of QoS and measures to further improve the consumer experience,” the TRAI statement said.
On December 28, the Department of Telecom had held discussions with telcos to identify policy and operational measures that can help improve the quality of telecom services in the country.
That meeting was chaired by Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman and attended by telecom service providers, including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea.
The issue of interference from illegal boosters and Right of Way (RoW) challenges had come up for discussion then, and operators had made a detailed presentation to the government on current levels of service quality against stipulated benchmarks.
After those parleys, industry sources had said the DoT flagged consumer complaints on service quality at the meeting, and added that companies maintained that quality of service norms were being met. The industry also mentioned locations that are facing specific problems, due to signal interference or other factors.
In September this year, Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw indicated that telecom service quality parameters could be made more stringent and tighter, possibly to the extent of 3-4 times.
The minister had exhorted the industry, including telecom operators and infrastructure providers, to move “full steam ahead” on improving the quality of services in the country, now that a slew of reforms have been announced and more are being proposed.
“You can’t clap with only one hand, both hands are needed. It cannot be that just we keep doing what you ask. You also have to do what we ask,” Vaishnaw had said at that time.
“I will be requesting the (Telecom) Department to send a new consultation paper to TRAI for significantly increasing the quality of service parameters almost making 3X or 4X of what it is today, so whatever is the quality of service we are seeing, should now improve significantly,” Vaishnaw had said at the industry event on September 14.