In a bid to check the quality of mobile services, regulator TRAI has begun operator-assisted drive test that captures real-time data to monitor the level of call drops and voice quality across multiple cities. “The operator-assisted drive tests have started in all the five regions of TRAI, and a number of cities have been covered,” its Chairman RS Sharma said.
The operator-assisted tests have already taken place in Mathura (UP-West circle), Jaisalmer, (Rajasthan), Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) and Mangalore (Karnataka) among others. Tests are underway or slated to be conducted over the coming weeks in locations include Kalyan, Noida, Jammu, Guwahati-Dispur, Mysore, Hyderabad, Rajkot, Bhopal, and Jhansi, as per the schedule drawn up by the regulator.
A new concept by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the ‘operator-assisted’ drive tests are distinct from the independent drive tests conducted by the regulator, as such tests are conducted in co-ordination with telecom service providers. The operator-assisted tests involves the telecom firms’ equipment and costs, with the regulator monitoring and supervising the entire process.
Last year, independent drive tests were conducted by TRAI in Amritsar (August-September), and in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Lucknow, Kanpur, Ahmedabad, Ranchi, Darjeeling, Sikkim and Trivandrum (May-June).
Typically, drive tests — whether TRAI’s independent tests or operator-assisted tests — assess the performance of networks on various quality benchmarks, including call set-up success rate, call drop, blocked calls and Radio Frequency (RF) coverage.
On the ongoing Points of Interconnect (PoI) dispute between Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, Sharma said that the regulator will continue to “monitor the situation”. “The last I saw, it was quite okay. In case of two operators there were no call failures, and with the third operator there were call failures in certain circles. Secretary TRAI will call a meeting soon to take a stock of the situation,” he said.
Asked about his views on the proposed consolidation in the telecom industry where Vodafone and Idea have begun talks for merger of India mobile operations, Sharma declined to comment saying the regulator has no role to play at this point. “It is a business arrangement and a business activity…So I should not be making any comments on that. I am sure when the business activity is to take place on merger, the processes which are applicable in these cases will be followed,” he said.