Airtel, Jio, Vodafone Idea Directed to Improve Service Quality Immediately, Report State Level Call Drop Data

Airtel, Jio and Vodafone Idea have been directed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to immediately improve their services in the country, amid rising instances of service quality issues and consumer complaints. TRAI said telcos will be asked to implement an artificial intelligence/machine learning tool to detect and block spam from unregistered telema...

Airtel, Jio, Vodafone Idea Directed to Improve Service Quality Immediately, Report State Level Call Drop Data

Amid rising instances of service quality issues and consumer complaints, TRAI has asked telecom operators to report call drop and outage data at the state level also and take immediate steps to "demonstrate visible improvement" in quality of service and connectivity experience for consumers across the country. On the issue of pesky promotional calls and messages, TRAI said telcos will be asked to implement an AI/ML (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning) tool which has been found to be effective in detecting and blocking spam that is pushed by unregistered telemarketers through telephone numbers (10 digits numbers).

This new comprehensive tool (currently being tested by Vodafone Idea) is expected to be implemented in about two months by the industry, reducing the menace of unsolicited promotional messages, TRAI Chairman PD Vaghela said.

TRAI officials met telecom companies including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea on Friday to review service quality issues, norms for 5G services as well as on unsolicited commercial communications.

The regulator made it clear to players that more stringent service benchmarks are on the anvil when it comes to calling quality parameters, and that a consultation process will be initiated by TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) in the coming months for this.

TRAI's diktat to telecom companies to improve service quality is bound to cheer mobile customers, irked by call drops and patchy networks. While 5G call data will be reported under the current system for now, separate QoS (Quality of Service) indicators for these next-generation services will come up eventually.

"We have been examining the issue of call drops and service quality, and there has been a rise in complaints also after 5G implementation. We have told operators to improve the quality of service immediately, whether or not it is due to the rollout of 5G services," Vaghela told reporters after the meeting.

He added: "Time has come to relook at the parameters completely." While an overhaul of call quality benchmarks is on the anvil, companies even now will have to report call drop and outage data at a state level, and perhaps at a later stage at the district level as well.

This means that the data reported will be more granular and detailed (for 29 states) as against the current practice of data reported at the level of Licenced Service Areas (22 LSAs in all) and averaged on a quarterly basis.

The state-level reporting will ensure that the problem areas and patchy networks in certain States, especially North East, can be clearly identified, and corrective action can be taken by players. While such detailed reporting (at state level) will start immediately, making it part of QoS norms, and imposing financial disincentives will take some time, Vaghela said.

"We have decided today that we will also monitor State level quality of service," Vaghela pointed out.

The parameters will be made more tighter going forward, he said adding a consultation paper will be taken out in this regard.

"The authority has directed telecom service providers (TSPs) to take urgent steps to demonstrate visible improvement in quality of service and quality of experience by consumers. TSPs were asked to analyse the issue of call muting and one-way speech and take corrective action on priority," TRAI said in a statement.

While rolling out 5G network, operators will need to ensure that there is least disturbance or degradation of service quality of existing telecom services. During the meeting, telecom operators admitted that there were some "problems" during the rollout of 5G, but assured that those have now been sorted out.

"TSPs were further informed that TRAI is closely monitoring the incidences of long duration network outages. Such outages adversely affect quality of services and consumer experience," TRAI said in a statement.

All the telecom providers were asked to report such outages to the regulator in any district or State. TRAI may consider bringing suitable regulation in this regard, if required, the statement added.