1. Reliance Jio QoS poor; why has Trai not recommended penalty on telco?

Reliance Jio QoS poor; why has Trai not recommended penalty on telco?

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been active in imposing hefty penalties in the past for call drops and which really helped, to a great extent, bring in improvement in call drops. Recently, Trai has again recommended hefty penalties to be imposed on some operators on the ground that they are not compliant […]

By: | Updated: November 1, 2016 11:48 AM
This is an attempt to examine whether RJio falls in any “exempted category” under the QoS regulation and hence needs a different treatment? (Representative Image) This is an attempt to examine whether RJio falls in any “exempted category” under the QoS regulation and hence needs a different treatment? (Representative Image)

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has been active in imposing hefty penalties in the past for call drops and which really helped, to a great extent, bring in improvement in call drops. Recently, Trai has again recommended hefty penalties to be imposed on some operators on the ground that they are not compliant with the terms and conditions of licence relating to interconnect and their actions are resulting into non-compliance of Quality of Service (QoS) rules and regulations. While making these recommendations, Trai appears to have completely closed its eyes on Reliance Jio.

This is an attempt to examine whether RJio falls in any “exempted category” under the QoS regulation and hence needs a different treatment?

The Standards of QoS of Basic Telephone Service (Wireline) and Cellular Mobile Telephone Service Regulations, 2009, as amended from time to time, apply to all service providers including BSNL and MTNL.

Under these regulations, certain terms and their meanings are relevant for our purpose:

  • “Consumer” means a consumer of a service provider falling in sub-regulation (3) of regulation 1 and includes its customer and subscriber;
  • “Licence” means a licence granted or having effect as if granted under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (13 of 1885), or the provisions of the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933 (17 of 1933);
  • “Licensee” means any person licensed under sub-section (1) of section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 (13 of 1885) for providing specified public telecommunication services;
  • “Service provider” is any service provider to which these regulations apply.

On examination of these terms, we can conclude that since RJio has been issued a licence under the Indian Telegraph Act and is covered within the meaning of service provider under these regulations, it should be equally responsible for QoS compliance as any other operator. Thus, RJio is equally responsible to comply with QoS conditions.

Now, whether an operator can be non-compliant with QoS regulation because of lack of interconnection capacity?

On glancing through QoS regulations, we don’t find any clause where it says that in case any service provider is not able to meet QoS parameters due to lack of interconnect capacity provided by any other operator then such operator should be exempted from compliance and will not be liable for any action for non-compliance.

The issue was specifically reviewed by Trai while framing Trai regulations. In this connection, para 4.7 (2) and (3) of the explanatory statement under the main QoS regulation is relevant, which records that operators had raised an issue with the regulator that the issues which are not within the control of operators should be excluded, such as fibre cut, other operator in granting E1s due to port/equipment issues, outages due to other operator, important festivals, force majeure and natural calamity. Trai, while coming out with the final regulation, observed that the service providers and consumer organisations have generally agreed with the benchmark for POI parameter. As such, the authority has prescribed the benchmark of less than or equal to 0.5%. As regards the suggestions to exclude issues that are not in control of service providers, the authority is of the view that only performance affected due to force majeure conditions need be excluded for calculation purpose.

Moreover, in the recent past, when Trai had imposed penalty on the operators for call drops, it had said that the lack of spectrum and non-availability of towers cannot be accepted as an excuse for call drops by the operators, as these are the conditions imposed under the licence and hence should be taken care of by the operators. Now, in this case, on the same analogy, setting up sufficient interconnect capacity should be the responsibility of service provider.

Certainly, lack of interconnection capacity does not fall in the category of force majeure and, therefore, on this ground again, RJio does not seem to be eligible for any sympathetic or preferential treatment.

The next question is whether Trai or any other operator forced RJio to offer free services?

Now, an argument which could possibly be offered by RJio is that their minutes and data being consumed by their customers is very high, and hence the interconnect capacity they have been provided is not sufficient.

Here again, neither Trai nor the other operators forced RJio to offer free services. Before offering these services, they should have made a reasonable calculation with regard to interconnection capacity. In case the capacity was not adequate, they should not have offered the services free of cost or would have delayed providing services until they got sufficient capacity. Here again, in the enthusiasm to quickly acquire customers, they chose to give a go-by to the QoS and decided to take the customer for a ride.

Also read | Reliance Jio impact: VoLTE smartphone demand reaches an all time high in India

Can a customer be taken for a ride because the services offered are free or partly free? Could Trai exempt an operator from QoS compliance because services offered are free or partly free? Unfortunately, here again, the answer is no.

So, when we look at the issue in toto, the following positions emerge that RJio is covered in the QoS regulation, it cannot be allowed to use the lack of interconnect capacity and free offering of service as an excuse, and it is in non-compliance of QoS parameters. The customer has nothing to do whether RJio suffering is because of interconnect seeker or interconnect provider. It is, in fact, because of both.

Thus, is it not fair to ask Trai that when the reason mentioned while recommending penalty on some operators is non-compliance with QoS conditions for which both the parties in dispute are in non-compliance, why and how RJio should not be held equally responsible for the same consequences by imposing penalty on the same principle because the fault lies equally with RJio as well.

The author is founder & CEO, Tathya Consulting. Views are personal

  1. I
    Nov 1, 2016 at 4:16 pm
    I would have sided with the columnist if the real issue of internet speeds was discussed in this article. Instead he put up a cheap review of the voice call interconnect issue.Well, the inbent players were fined for call drops as they were not ready to purchase spectrum in the auction. Yet they focused on acquiring bigger customer base by putting up pageful of misleading ads in big newspapers boasting about their "platinum" or "smartphone" networks. They invested little on technology more on ding and billboards. Again, it's a matter of willingness to resolve the actual issue, which could be resolved from the telcos end simply by optimizing the networks and purchasing more spectrum.The recent interconnection issue is again a willingness issue of inbent telcos to let calls connect from jio to their networks. Jio on the other hand adhered to the terms by asking for more interconnection, investing on proper technology and paying for imbalance of traffic. I mean, come on man. What is a new telco supposed to do? Let the inbents direct the terms what TRAI should do or us, the consumers should do or how the other players carry out their own business? Is it a freshers ragging session so everyone have to do whatever the big brothers like them to do?Further, TRAI has 100 percent right to favor a telco which has decided to go by consumers friendly policies and tariffs. A telco should not charge for services for glitchy services. This is an ethical issue which the inbents refused to address by charging for services that doesn't meet expected QOS. TRAI is an organization that is meant to serve the consumers interest and not any telcos political or business interest. This way we find plenty of reasons to back the decisions made by TRAI and not go by such emotionally hyped and inconsistent review articles.
    1. N
      Nov 1, 2016 at 8:39 am
      Are you representative of Airtel or Vodafone or Idea? You seem so!
      1. F
        Nov 1, 2016 at 9:24 am
        Presitute ...of course..why the the author isn't taking a Rjio connection & then take up the issue with Trai ....on behalf of his paymasters.As a consumer let me know..how the Airtel provides new Post paid connection (in my case) with out first checking / knowing & then informing of the service quality avlbl in the area for all services like connection,call drops,data speed & ABOVE ALL DATA USAGE ..WHICH IS FRADULENTLY CALCULATED & when objected to...given waivers.So U bugger ...write about this too....I can give u enough data on this...do u hv guts ? Or stop being a prosute.Same goes for U...FE..STOP BEING A PROSUTE...Pl.publish this rpl of mine to prove that u FE is not a prosute.
        1. A
          Atul Ahuja
          Nov 1, 2016 at 4:42 pm
          Spot on, good article. Call drops have increased and network congestion has escalated since this free service started. And the already paying consumer is suffering even more. People need to understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
          1. A
            Nov 1, 2016 at 1:05 pm
            Totally one sided views. I think other companies gave money to write such article against Jio. Why cant the company provide freebies to its users ? Moreover Jio repeatedly requested top companies to provide sufficient POI . Actually other companies r afraid of Jio because of its cheap plans and free calling.
            1. A
              Nov 1, 2016 at 10:49 am
              What a stupid article. Other telcos are supposed to provide sufficient poi, when needed, we don't see any call drops happening when calls made to jio from other operators, lame article, please remove
              1. A
                Anant Bhatia
                Nov 1, 2016 at 9:30 am
                Of you would read your own article, you will know why Jio was exempt.
                1. A
                  Nov 2, 2016 at 3:45 pm
                  If its on some purpose then dont use jio, if its some movies or time p ok.. when the purpose part steps in then its a strict no, its unpredictable, inconsistant and often troublesome. Enjoy it as long as its free.
                  1. Arun Muralidhar
                    Nov 1, 2016 at 7:55 am
                    At least in cases where people have paid for lyf handsets / Wi-Fi dongle from reliance jio, there should hv been some level of accountability.
                    1. Bhabesh Mondal
                      Nov 1, 2016 at 9:44 am
                      The article is highly biased and seems influenced by some telcos. BTW bad piece of writing by FE standards.
                      1. I
                        Imad Uddin
                        Nov 1, 2016 at 2:40 pm
                        Mukes Ambani's Reliance Jio is the powerfull than the trai chairman their for trai can't take action against Mukes Ambani and also trai don't see the customer's problem.Rjio is the best chitter company of world's.
                        1. I
                          indian lover
                          Nov 2, 2016 at 2:02 am
                          Jio become disgusting in every field, it's Internet speed or call 😡
                          1. M
                            M M
                            Nov 1, 2016 at 8:48 am
                            Bcoz d man promoting d product is non other thn d PM himself
                            1. M
                              Mohit Kumar
                              Nov 6, 2016 at 6:46 pm
                              Mujhe tower lagvana he please contact me-09506133557
                              1. Navneet Upadhyay
                                Nov 1, 2016 at 9:13 am
                                I think since Jio is still in preview phase.. that's why exempted from any penalty..
                                1. P
                                  PARAMESHWAR MOHANTA
                                  Nov 1, 2016 at 12:26 pm
                                  Jio is not clear net speed
                                  1. R
                                    Nov 1, 2016 at 11:30 am
                                    what a moron!!!
                                    1. A
                                      Nov 1, 2016 at 8:31 am
                                      Whaaat? Call drops have improved ?? Since when ?
                                      1. R
                                        Nov 1, 2016 at 5:59 pm
                                        Other operator charge for service so they have to pay. Right now jio is free so even if call drop you are not wrongly charge for call drop. Because it's free. Once they start charging then these rule on them also.
                                        1. Rohit Agarwal
                                          Nov 1, 2016 at 5:25 am
                                          Looks like a paid article from COAI. Rather than attacking COAI's favorite Telcos the question is being asked to fine Reliance Jio for no fault of theirs. Instead of asking to change the law for this loop, if it is, you feel that the inbent Telcos should be allowed to form a cartel and offer poor QOS. Any sane writer won't be making this case.
                                          1. G
                                            Ganga Praveen
                                            Nov 1, 2016 at 8:34 am
                                            I don't agree with this. There were no call failures between Jio to Jio. I personally experienced 90℅ call failures when I tried calling other network mobile through my Jio. The PoIs were not provided to Jio. Jio informed the need for PoIs beforehand to the inbent operators. Those operators were anti compeive and tried to create a bad perception of Jio in the minds of users. Don't come up with stupid articles like this. We like financial express a lot. Don't ruin my relationship with financial express.
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