A driving test conducted by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) across 16 cities has revealed that telecom networks are not meeting quality of service benchmarks in many areas.

To check the quality of mobile services, regulator TRAI has been conducting operator-assisted drive tests capturing real-time data to monitor the level of call drops and voice quality across multiple cities over the past few years.

At its recent test across 16 cities, TRAI found the telecom network in Dimapur, Kohima, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri, Patna, Itanagar, Malda and Agartala was not up to the mark. In almost all of these regions besides Patna, all operators - Airtel, BSNL, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone Idea - failed the Drive test. Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Reliance Jio could not meet the regulator’s benchmark for 4G network strength in these regions. Other criteria not met by the operators occasionally  included the drop call rate.

Other cities that took part in the Drive test included Rohtak, Ludhiana, Lucknow, Raipur, Puducherry, Bhubaneshwar, Nalgonda, Kottayam, Kolar, and Satara. For most cities, the test was conducted in the quarter ending in December 2021, for Malda and Agartala, the test was conducted in the quarter ending in September 2021. 

The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were assessed for the networks of all telecom service providers operating in the region. KPIs for voice services are Coverage; Call Setup Success Rate (CSSR); Drop Call Rate; Block Call Rate, Handover Success Rate; Rx Quality. KPIs for data services are Download and Upload Throughputs, Web Browsing Delay, Video Streaming Delay, and Latency.

The key KPI benchmark that all Telecom Service Providers were unable to meet in the six cities and their surrounding areas are called, “Rx Quality in 4G network”. This KPI is a cumulative measurement of the rate at which calls are blocked, and dropped successfully in the 4G network. According to experts, operators were unable to meet these benchmarks in these regions due to their remote geographical location. 

BSNL, which does not have its 4G services presently, also failed to meet the requisite benchmarks for the 2G and 3G services in these regions.