Looking to improve customer experience and end the issue of call drops, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has announced revised quality of service (QoS) rules, providing for a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on mobile operators if they fail to meet the benchmarks.
The penalty, which stood at Rs 50,000 earlier, will increase to Rs 10 lakh in case of repeat violation of the benchmarks for two consecutive quarters.
Besides the penalty provision, Trai has also revised the methodology for assessing call drops as it feels that the earlier method of averaging the call drop rate was acting as a cover for the poorly performing towers.
"As a result, while service providers were meeting the benchmarks but customers were complaining about the poor quality of service. The authority, therefore, decided to redefine the framework for the assessment of network quality," Trai said while releasing the new norms.
In the revised framework, the regulator has made the measurement of call drop rate more granular.
Under the revised rules, to measure the 2 per cent benchmark, Trai will see if 90 per cent of the base transceiver station (BTS) or mobile towers are working properly for 90 per cent of days. Elaborating on the methodology further, Trai's acting Secretary, SK Gupta, said for a period of 90 days, 90 per cent of the mobile towers should work properly for at least 81 days.
In the worst-case scenario, call drops should not exceed beyond 3 per cent for a majority of towers in a given circle. Trai usually takes the data for QoS norms every three months.
"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.
There is a cap of Rs 10 lakh on financial disincentive.
"Under the new rules, we are taking into account temporary issues that may be there in the network as well as the geographical spread of the network," Sharma said.
Trai said the revised methodology has taken a step towards the technology agnostic performance measurement and now call drop rate benchmark assessment is to be done for all technologies like GSM, CDMA, WCDMA, LTE and other connections. Earlier, operators used to submit technology based data to Trai.
The regulator also fixed the benchmark for the radio-link time out technology (RLT), allegedly used by telecom operators for masking call drops.
RLT is used for the continuation of a call in case a subscriber is moving or is in base network area for short period. It is the time used for connecting call of a subscriber from one mobile tower to another.