Telecom regulator TRAI extended the deadline for submitting of views by stakeholders for the consultation process to frame rules on network testing before a full-fledged commercial launch. “Keeping in view the request of stakeholders for extension of time for sending their comments up to June 12, 2017 and for counter-comments up to June 26, 2017. No further requests for an extension would be considered,” TRAI said in a statement. Also Read - Jio maintains lead in 4G download speed, Vi in upload in May: TRAIAlso Read - Airtel launches new Rs 456 prepaid plan: Check data, validity, call and other benefits
The last date for seeking comments was earlier fixed for May 29 and for counter comments by June 12. The consultation process has been started following reference sought by the Department of Telecom on complaints of telecom operators over Reliance Jio’s free trial run. The DoT has requested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to provide its recommendations on testing of network before commercial launch of services, including enrolment of customers for testing purposes before commercial launch, duration of testing period etc.
“…this consultation paper has been prepared to discuss issues involved, possible solutions and framework to bring clarity on the matter,” TRAI had said.
The consultation paper mentioned that till date, there was no need to specify various aspects of testing such as the definition of test cards, their limit, testing duration and the like. “However, in 2016, a TSP (telecom service provider) carried out testing of its long-term evolution (LTE) network on a very large scale and enrolled lakhs of subscribers as test users before the commercial launch of its services… Some incumbent operators filed representations through their industry association expressing that this practice is unfair…,” the paper said. ALSO READ: TRAI responds to Reliance Jio s complaint; bars telcos from offering discriminatory tariffs
Jio free trials of 4G services stretched from December 28, 2015, to September 4, 2016. The company had over 15 lakh users on its network before the commercial launch on September 5 last year. Telecom industry body COAI had alleged that under the garb of testing, Jio is bypassing regulation features like interconnect usage charge, poaching customers of other telecom operators through MNP and the like.
The incumbents too showed reluctance in providing interconnection to Reliance Jio as per the latter’s demand. They had expressed concern that enrollment of subscribers and provision of service free of cost before commercial launch are leading to a non-level playing field. Their contention was the volume of voice traffic generated by such test users, due to free offers, is choking points of interconnect and impairing the quality of service of other operators. In the consultation paper, the regulator has also sought views on a host of other issues including whether a telecom operator should be allowed to enrol subscribers as test users, restrictions on their numbers, period of use for trial service, criteria to differentiate test phase from commercial launch and the like.