Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) today released yet another long overdue recommendations on network testing before the launch of commercial services. In a shocking move, the Trai has said that a new telecom operator looking to foray into the market can roll out the services under testing phase for 90 days. The recommendations also read that a telecom operator can extend the testing phase on a special request by submitting the actual case to DoT.
"A TSP should be allowed to enrol test subscribers in the testing phase to carry out the network testing before the commercial launch of its services," said Trai in its Network Testing Before Launch of Commercial Services recommendations.
It also revealed that the number of test subscribers that can be enrolled by a TSP in an LSA should be limited to 5% of its installed network capacity for that LSA (Local Service Area). "The service provider will submit the detailed capacity calculations of the network to DoT and TRAI at least 15 days before commencing enrolment of test subscribers," said the regulator.
As said earlier, there should be a limit of 90 days on the test phase involving test subscribers. However, if the TSP fails to conclude network testing due to valid reasons, it may make a representation to the licensor, seeking additional time for network testing giving detailed justification, which may be decided by the Licensor on the case to case basis.
Furthermore, during the test phase, the telecom service provider is not mandated to adhere to a specified level of Quality of Service (QoS). Also, the service provider should inform the customers up front that MNP facility won't be available until the service are commercially launched.
Lastly, the network operator should not charge the customers during the test period, and it should also inform the likely date of commercial launch ahead of rolling out the test services.
Ever since the Reliance Jio test services rollout, there has been a long debate between the regulator and top telecom service providers such as Bharti Airtel about the operator carrying out its test subscribers to the commercial launch. Reliance Jio offered free LTE services for six months, and during the period, it achieved over 100 million subscribers. Airtel urged that the Mukesh Ambani-led company should not be allowed to convert the test subscribers to commercial subscribers.