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Telecoms seek two more quarters to implement Quality of Services norms

New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) Telecom service providers on Monday requested the sector regulator for another two quarters of time to implement Quality of Services regulations.

“We have requested that. We have said the last thing we want to be is in a situation where there are new norms to play… and all of a sudden all the industry is found to be non-compliant… and the next thing, we are looking at is penalties,” Rajan S. Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI), told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

“So, we said give us two quarters (of time) where we actually implement and try this and see what it means to run it. This has not been tried anywhere in the world. This is cutting edge. We have not said that we will not do it or we should not do it… and it probably makes sense to do it,” he added.

Mathews added: “TRAI said they will consider it. They have not come back yet.”

Another two quarters of time would mean till March 2018.

Earlier, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said the amended regulations of “Quality of Services” would be effective from October 1.

The Indian telecom watchdog in August announced stricter rules over call drops and said telecom operators who don’t meet the norms can be fined up to Rs 5 lakh.

“Graded financial disincentives in case service providers fail to meet the DCR (drop all rates) benchmarks have been introduced, in which amount payable may depend upon the extent of deviation from the benchmarks,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said.

It said that if the benchmark is not met, the service provider may be fined up to Rs 5 lakh against one parameter “depending upon the extent of deviation of performance from the benchmark”.

Talking about how the new norms will be implemented, Mathews said: “We have worked very closely with the TRAI. We talked about the various issues and explanations to what this is, like if there is a flood and cell towers go down then how that is going to be (handled).

“They told us we have some codes, which you can attach to these cell towers. That has to get integrated into our back-end software. Cells at the edge of the network will always have call drops. So there are codes now that TRAI has given to the operators so that it helps balance out these types of issues.”

“We will try our best to see how we can comply because it is new methodology,” he added.

Regarding the industry’s plans of investing in supplementary technologies, Mathews said the industry is very concerned about call drops.

“In a place like Delhi, getting cell towers is a challenge. In Delhi, 400 cell towers are shut down. We are trying work with the MCD, NDMC regarding towers. Not one of our member companies have refused to put up a cell tower.”

“We are in negotiation with every major state. We have been saying please provide us with timely permission for towers, laying fiber, do not charge exhorbitant rates. Ultimately the Department of Telecommunications had to put the Right of Way notification. We are saying please adopt this Right of Way. A few state have begun to adopt this. We have put 360,000 BTS (base transceiver station) in the last nine months.”

Mathews mentioned that in India certain smartphones are creating network issues.

“In India operators do not have bundled handset. We have no control over what the operator purchases in terms of a handset. Compliance with handset is a government thing. So before it is imported, every handset is supposed to show that it is compliant with the performance standards and the security standards, both. Certain handsets work on certain band. Certain smartphones are creating certain issues.”

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