The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Friday made its quality of service norms relating to call drops more stringent by changing the measurement criteria — moving from the circle level to the tower level — and steeply increased the penalty for breaching the benchmark from Rs 1 lakh per violation to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh. The penalty can even go up to Rs 10 lakh if operators fail to meet the benchmark for three consecutive quarters. “We have proposed financial disincentive in the range of Rs 1-5 lakh. It is a graded penalty system depending on the performance of a network,” Trai chairman RS Sharma said. According to Trai secretary (acting) SK Gupta, if an operator fails to meet the call drop benchmark in a consecutive quarter, the penalty amount will be hiked 1.5 times and in the third consecutive month it will be doubled. “However, there is cap of `10 lakh on financial disincentive,” Gupta said. Unlike the previous regulation which allowed call drops up to 2% on average in a circle, the new methodology has introduced a drop call rate (DCR) spatial distribution measure, which means that call drop rate should not exceed 2% for 90% of the telecom towers of an operator in a circle for at least 90% of the days. This means call drops will not be measured on the basis of circle but that of towers.
Similarly, the DCR temporal distribution measure stipulates that in the worst case or during busy hours, call drop rate must not exceed the 3% benchmark for 97% of the towers in a telecom circle for 90% of the days. “We have added a temporal (time-based) and a spatial (geography-based) calculation for call drops. This will be done on a percentile basis. Averages many times hide many things. This new method will help in providing good services to even areas which suffered even though the overall call drop level was within the stipulated level,” Sharma said.
The calculations will be made on a quarterly basis. These new regulations will be applicable from October 1, 2017, which means that the October-December period will be the first quarter when this system will come into effect. Industry body Cellular Operators’ Association of India’s (COAI) director general Rajan S Mathews said that the amendment has made the benchmarks more stringent with a shift in methodology towards a cell-wise measurement.
“Quality of service available from a network is dependent on a number of extraneous factors which may not only be environmental. These include factors such as number of users accessing the network at that time; the area covered by the BTS (base transceiver station); whether the customer is indoors or outdoors, application being used by the customer; peak/off-peak time; kind of device or hardware being used; additional external interference as well as the quantum of spectrum available. All of these are dynamic in nature and the slightest variations in these parameters can cause major changes in the QoS,” he added.
Mathews added that issues such as right-of-way and misinformation regarding EMF emission are also major problems preventing telecom operators from accessing crucial sites for setting up telecom towers. “As there are a lot of technicalities involved in call drops, if and when they occur they do in pockets; therefore, a collaborative approach is the most conducive one for resolving this challenge, which the industry has been grappling with on an everyday basis, despite additional investments and constant enhancement of infrastructure,” Mathews said.