Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (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 prompted by the controversy over the extended prelaunch offer during Reliance Jio's commercial launch.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had requested Trai to frame rules for 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.
The telecom sector regulator has now prepared a consultation paper to discuss issues such as possible solutions and framework to bring clarity on the matter.
Incumbent operators including, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, had petitioned Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) alleging inaction by the Trai for Reliance Jio's alleged violation of tariff orders and regulations.
Trai 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.
The existing licence terms and conditions do not prescribe any time period for test phase i.e. beyond which, a service provider should start providing commercial services.
Trai 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, Trai said.