India’s telecom regulator is going to issue a consultation paper which will address the problem of call muting. The problem which has been faced persistently by a lot of consumers on Long Term Evolution (LTE) or VoLTE networks is finally in the cross-hair to be done with by setting up statuary measures. This public announcement was made by RS Sharma, the chairman of Trai (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India). He said “The consultation paper for this was issued in February. This is an urgent problem and we will solve it as early as possible… less than one month.” It is notable that the regulator has got a QoS (Quality of Service) norm in place to ensure that telecom companies do not fall short in maintaining the quality of calls and other services being provided to the customers. This new bar for call muting which is soon going to introduced will be added to the existing compilation of QoS benchmarks. To curb the problem of call drop, in August last year Trai had introduced a new norm which put a 5lakh penalty over the telco if it failed to meet the regulator’s guideline on call quality and standards.
Trai adopted new norms and system for assessing the dropped call rate which is now measured at the mobile tower level instead of at the telecom circle level. Despite putting in these new measures, things had to be changed while telcos urged the regulator to factor in the issue of ‘call muting’ which was only being faced by the users of VoLTE, where the call just went blank even though the call connectivity was not broken.
The regulator had then intervened in February again to issue a consultation paper on “Voice Services to LTE users (including VoLTE and Circuit Switched Fall Back).” This new paper asked for stakeholders’ views on the issue about whether or not the existing parameters in the QoS were sufficient for upholding the supervision of the quality of calls.
Sharma further spoke about this new development “New technologies have got the new quality of service-related parameters like call mute etc. These are currently not part of the bouquet of parameters for measuring the quality of service. The idea is to explore as to whether additional parameters which are relevant to these technologies should be included in this bouquet; if yes, then what should be the standards of those parameters.”
As reported by Livemint, the major spat in this issue comes from the rivalry of the two telecom giants in the country – Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. While Airtel is of the view that the existing QoS norms cover the only circuit switched voice and therefore a new QoS regime is required for non-circuit switch calls, i.e. VoLTE. Reliance Jio, on the other hand, is troubled with operators sparring over network testing norms to the provision of points of interconnection (PoIs), the cut in interconnection usage charges and also with Trai because of its latest ruling in the issue of predatory pricing.
Varaprasad, Executive Vice President, Core and Network Services, Bharti Airtel also had some insights to share on the same issue, at the open house meeting held on Monday he said “We need more than what has been prescribed in the QoS norms. Call mute is a key concern… it is the highest irritant after a call is established… we suggest measuring the silence frame between 2-3 second intervals.”
Mahipal Singh, associate vice-president of Reliance Jio had some contrary views on the same and said: “There is no scientifically proven method to record call muting, therefore, it should not be included as a parameter.”
This statement made it clear that Reliance Jio is of the conviction that Trai should not be placing new benchmarks in place related to VoLTE as many telcos are still rolling out VoLTE services. They also made an official statement saying, that since the parameters had only been changed in August, it would be wise to put in stable benchmarks right now for the telecom regulator, and there was no case of putting new norms into place just months after the previous revision of the same.