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ISLAMABAD: The Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) have missed most of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) mentioned in their licences and the applicable regulations with respect to webpage loading time and latency, an independent survey about quality of service (QoS) carried out by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has revealed.

The PTA has issued instructions to the operators for taking corrective measures in order to raise the quality of service as per the standards mentioned in the licences.

To measure the performance and service quality of the CMOs, an independent QoS survey was carried out at over 13 motorways and highways during the 4th Quarter, that is, October-December 2022. Also, an independent QoS survey was carried out in 22 cities of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan during the same quarter.

The survey was carried out using Automated QoS Monitoring and Benchmarking Tool ‘SMARTBENCHMARKER’. The test teams selected survey routes in such a manner that main roads, service roads and a majority of sectors/ colonies were covered.

During the survey, mobile handsets for Voice Calls, SMS were kept in technology auto-detect mode, whereas in case of Mobile Broadband/ Data Sessions, the mobile handsets were kept both in auto-detect and locked mode.

As per the Cellular Mobile Network QoS Regulations, 2021, licensees are required to meet Webpage Loading Time threshold of five seconds. However, the CMOs failed to comply with this KPI in cities as well as on motorways and highways.

The licensees are also required to meet threshold of 75 milliseconds of 4G/LTE Technology and 150 milliseconds of 3G Technology of Latency. However, operators missed this KPI by a wide margin in cities as well as on motorways and highways, with more than 200 milliseconds recorded.

During the survey, while conducting data test in technology auto-detect mode as well as locked mode, 4G/LTE signal strength samples were recorded on survey routes.

As per the Next Generation Mobile Service (NGMS) licences, licensees are required to meet the threshold of -100 dBm or above of Reference Signal Receive Power (RSRP) with 90 per cent confidence level. However, in most of the cases on motorways and highways, operators missed this KPI by a wide margin.

Industry sources, however, said that telecom industry in Pakistan is facing serious challenges, especially after recent floods and problem of Letters of Credit, which are hampering the implementation of projects and resulting in degrading of services. The current economic “meltdown” and related liquidity issues have forced telecom companies to opt for cost cuttings and facing challenges in upgrading their capacity to meet demands.

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has repeatedly admitted the poor quality of services while saying that the parameters of quality of service are not at par with other regional countries. Around 1.5 million internet connections are being added every month, but operators failed to meet the requirements and have not upgraded their capacity.

The PTA recently imposed a penalty of Rs29 million on four CMOs over their failure to meet the quality of service standards laid down in their licences.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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