Quality control bylaw to compensate phone users

- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

Apr 21, 2017-Telecom sector regulator Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has introduced Quality Control Bylaw-2017 in order to protect service users and to push reforms to enhance accountability and quality. The move comes amid mounting criticism by the public of the poor telecommunication services.

The new law, which comes into effect on July 16, is expected to discourage anomalies that have been affecting consumers.

Under the new rule, service providers will be liable to compensate consumers if they fail to deliver services as committed. It has also set quality standards for different services like voice, data and billing.

The NTA will regulate different aspects of telecommunications service, including network down time, call connection time, call drop ratio, end-to-end speech quality, intra and inter-network call connection loss, network accessibility and data download and upload success rate.

“Although the NTA has a guideline to protect service users, it has become necessary to introduce a bylaw to enforce it effectively. The new law ensures compensation if quality is compromised,” NTA Chairman Digambar Jha said. “We believe consumers will benefit from the new law and make service providers accountable as well.”

If consumers face call drop after implementation of the bylaw, they will be compensated based on the applicable pulse duration. Service providers need to make such compensation in the subscription account or mobile and landline numbers and then notify consumers about the same.

Service providers will have to send details about dysfunctional network sites to the authority on monthly basis. The report should incorporate average network down time. The NTA will penalise service providers if the average down time is greater than one percent.

The call connection time should be limited within five seconds while call drop ratio should be lesser than two percent.

The bylaw states that mobile network accessibility should stand at greater than 99 percent. The NTA will conduct drive test for determining mobile network accessibility. Drive testing is a method of measuring and assessing coverage, capacity and quality of service of a mobile radio network. The technique consists of using a motor vehicle containing measurement equipment that can gather data regarding network accessibility.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or telecom companies should activate data service or provision it within four hours. The NTA will look at the number of requests made by subscribers and the time required to respond it on a monthly basis. Besides, consumers should obtain at least 75 percent data throughout based on their purchases.

“The flow of data a user is subjected to receive will depend on the customer’s agreement with the service provider,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for the NTA. “The agreement will have details whether the subscription is shared or not.”

Normally, ISPs in Nepal split internet service to multiple consumers. That means if a consumer 

purchases 1Mbps data, it is split to multiple accounts based on the policy of ISPs.

The NTA says it holds the right to conduct several tests, monitor and direct service providers based on their performance. If service providers fail to act, as prescribed by the bylaw, the NTA can penalise them under the Telecommunications Act-1997. The Act authorises the NTA to slap fines up to Rs500,000. “The bylaw cannot contradict the Act, which is why we hold the authority to slap a fine in line with the Act,” said Aryal.

According to the NTA, the country has 30.3 million subscribers of voice service and 13.8 million data subscribers as of mid-December 2016. However, only 47 formal complaints were lodged in the fiscal year 2015-16. The negligible number of complaints is due to people’s apathy for complaining as they believe there will be no remedy.

Published: 21-04-2017 07:52

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