Regulators

Broadband speed: TRAI extends ideas date to 20 July

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NEW DELHI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has extended the date for inputs of stakeholders on ensuring transparency and customer awareness regarding data speeds under wireless broadband plans to 20 July with counter-comments by 5 August 2017.

TRAI had issued a consultation paper on Data Speed under Wireless Broadband Plans for which the last date was 29 June for responses.

However, TRAI said it was extending the date as this issue involved several technical, network and business issues.

The paper issued on 1 June 2017 had said wireless access networks are the main source of delivering broadband in the country. Global mobile subscriptions are growing around 5 percent year-on-year. The Ericsson’s mobility report said India grew the most in terms of net additions during the third quarter of 2016 by adding 15 million connections. These figures have increased substantially in the last few quarters. Out of the total 236.09 million broadband subscribers in the country as of 31 December, 2016 approximately 92.32% i.e. 217.95 million subscribers are through wireless access.

According to a GSMA report titled ‘The Mobile Economy, India, 2016’, at the end of June 2016, 616 million unique users subscribed to mobile services in India, making it the second largest mobile market in the world. Almost half the country’s population now subscribes to a mobile service.

The report suggests that improving affordability; falling device prices and better network coverage aided by operator investment will help deliver over 330 million new unique subscribers by 2020, taking the penetration rate to 68 per cent. It further adds that as more users migrate to high-speed broadband, mobile data traffic is expected to grow 12-fold between 2015 and 2020, at a CAGR of 63 per cent.

Data usage by GSM users has already shown an unprecedented growth in the recent months from an average usage of 236MB per month in September, 2016 to 884 MB per month in December, 2016. Along with this, the composition of revenues earned by operators is also changing. Mobile operators in India have so far reported limited revenue contribution from data services, generating 17 per cent of service revenues at the end of 2015. This is forecast to increase to 23 per cent by 2020.

The paper listed nine questions for the stakeholders:

Q1: Is the information on wireless broadband speeds currently being made available to consumers is transparent enough for making informed choices?

Q2: If it is difficult to commit a minimum download speed, then could average speed be specified by the service providers? What should be the parameters for calculating average speed?

Q3: What changes can be brought about to the existing framework on wireless broadband tariff plans to encourage better transparency and comparison between plans offered by different service providers?

Q4: Is there a need to include/delete any of the QoS parameters and/or revise any of the benchmarks currently stipulated in the Regulations?

Q5: Should disclosure of average network performance over a period of time or at peak times including through broadband facts/labels be made mandatory?

Q6: Should standard application/ websites be identified for mandating comparable disclosures about network speeds?

Q7: What are the products/technologies that can be used to measure actual end-user experience on mobile broadband networks? At what level should the measurements take place (e.g., on the device, network node)?

Q8: Are there any legal, security, privacy or data sensitivity issues with collecting device level data?

a) If so, how can these issues be addressed?

b) Do these issues create a challenge for the adoption of any measurement tools?

Q9: What measures can be taken to increase awareness among consumers about wireless broadband speeds, availability of various technological tools to monitor them and any potential concerns that may arise in the process?

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