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Jio fallout: Trai to frame rules to test network before commercial launch

Objective of mandating roll-out obligations is to ensure spectrum assigned is effectively utilised

Megha Manchanda  |  New Delhi 

Tower, Telecom

Telecom Regulatory Authority of (Trai) on Monday commenced the consultation process to frame rules for network testing before a full-fledged commercial launch of a telecom operator- a move ostensibly taken in the light of the controversy that erupted at the time of Reliance Jio's commercial launch.

The consultation paper has come after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) requested it to provide its recommendations on testing the network before the commercial launch of services including, enrollment of customers for the trial and the duration of the test-phase, among others.

A consultation paper has been prepared by the regulator to discuss issues such as possible solutions and framework to bring clarity on the matter.

Incumbent operators including, Bharti and Idea Cellular, had petitioned Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) alleging inaction by the for Reliance Jio's alleged violation of tariff orders and regulations.

has said that telecom service providers are required to install applicable systems for providing mobile services to the subscribers.

"It is important that all applicable systems are tested before the commencement of commercial services because a licensee has to ensure that its service meets the Quality of Service (QoS) standards prescribed by the licensor (Trai)," the regulator said.

Typically before the commercial launch of services, the mobile operators use test Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards to check the quality of its network. However, the license does not provide clear guidelines on testing of network and processes such as the timeline of testing, acquisition of subscribers during the test phase and the number of SIM cards that can be issued.

Telecom operators expressed concern regarding the enrollment of subscribers and the provision of free-of-cost service. They also said that the volume of voice traffic generated by such test users, due to free offers, is choking points of interconnectivity and impairing the quality of service of other operators.

Until today, there was no need felt to specify various aspects of testing, said the regulator. The consultation paper also asked whether the service provider should be allowed to provide all services free of cost to test users even before the commercial launch of services.

The existing license terms and conditions do not prescribe any time period for test phase i.e. beyond which, a service provider should start providing commercial services.

pointed out that in the past some service providers, who otherwise comply technically with the roll-out obligations chose not to start commercial services.

The objective of mandating the roll-out obligations is to ensure that spectrum assigned is effectively utilised.

The last date for seeking comments on the issue is May 29.