The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended telecom companies be allowed test subscribers before the commercial launch of services but their numbers should not exceed 5 per cent of the installed network capacity for a circle. Testing should be completed in 90 days.
The regulator has proposed that no charge be levied on customers during the test phase and an operator not be required to follow network service quality rules during this time.
These recommendations are in response to a request from the department of telecommunications (DoT), on testing of networks following a controversy over the commercial launch of services by Reliance Jio. Incumbent telecom operators had complained that Jio had carried out testing on a very large scale, enrolling hundreds of thousands of subscribers before commercial launch.
Trai, in a consultation paper on the issue in May, had said the older telecom companies had complained the practice by Jio had choked interconnection points, impairing their networks.
Presenting its recommendations, Trai said a telecom company should be allowed to enroll subscribers for network testing before the commercial launch of services.
"The service provider will submit detailed capacity calculations of the network to the DoT and the Trai at least 15 days before commencing enrolment of test subscribers," Trai said.
It further recommended a limit of 90 days for the phase involving test subscribers. However, if a telecom company fails to conclude its network test due to valid reasons, it may seek more time from the licensor.
Industry body COAI said the testing recommendations are useful, they may have come too late as it is not envisioned that there will be any new operators entering the Indian market in the near future. "We believe the 5 per cent of Network capacity for deciding the quantum of testing customers, is on the higher side and can be better achieved through standard testing procedures for networks," COAI DG Rajan Mathews said.
The operator must comply with licensing provisions related to security and privacy like verification of customers, protection and privacy of communication, maintaining call detail records, and a lawful interception and monitoring. Porting of mobile numbers should not be allowed into networks that were being tested, Trai said.
Trai also said telecom companies should inform test subscribers that during the testing phase they were not mandated to adhere to specified levels of quality of service.
Also, there should not be any charge during the testing phase and users should be informed about the likely date of the commercial launch of services, it added.