On Friday, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) released a Consultation Paper titled 'Review of Quality-of-Service Standards for Access Services (Wireless and Wireline) and Broadband (Wireless and Wireline) Services' in a move to ensure the quality of telecommunication services (QoS) and safeguard consumer interests.
Mandate and Regulation History
According to the statement, the TRAI Act of 1997 mandates the Authority to ensure service quality in the telecommunications sector. Consequently, TRAI has previously introduced regulations governing Quality of Service (QoS) standards for various telecommunication offerings - Quality of Service of Broadband Service Regulations 2006, The Standards of Quality of Service of Basic Telephone Service (Wireline) and Cellular Mobile Telephone service regulations, 2009 and The Standards of Quality of Service for Wireless Data Services Regulations 2012.
As per TRAI these regulations have been amended from time to time based on the induction of new technologies like 4G.
Challenges with QoS in Diverse Landscape
TRAI stated that this latest consultation paper, prompted by a surge in subscriber complaints, particularly following the introduction of 5G services, acknowledges the challenges associated with maintaining consistent quality across a diverse and expansive landscape.
From the analysis of quarterly QoS performance reports, the authority has noted that due to the long performance assessment period of a quarter over a large area like a Licensed Service Area (LSA), there may be pockets or areas experiencing poor quality of service due to averaging effect while service providers are meeting overall QoS benchmark at LSA level.
To address this issue, the proposed regulations introduce a monthly QoS performance reporting system at both the State and Union Territory (UT) levels, in addition to the existing LSA level reporting.
Notably, the QoS parameters and benchmarks prescribed by the existing regulations remain technology-agnostic. However, given the broader coverage provided by 4G and 5G networks compared to their predecessors, TRAI is advocating for more stringent benchmarks, particularly about call drops, to ensure an enhanced consumer experience.
Focus on Network Availability
Network availability, recognized as a fundamental requirement for superior QoS, will be closely monitored at the State and UT levels to guarantee uninterrupted services for consumers.
To simplify the regulatory framework, TRAI's proposal involves consolidating the current three separate regulations into a single unified regulation, thus encompassing QoS standards for all voice and data services, regardless of whether they are accessed through wireline or wireless mediums.
TRAI's consultation paper aims to foster a holistic discussion and gather input from various stakeholders, addressing a spectrum of QoS-related concerns.