PTA Gears up to Conduct a Service Quality Survey for 3G/4G
As cellular mobile operators (CMOs) begin to roll out next-generation mobile broadband services, their regulator has started to train its staff and upgrade equipment to conduct the first-ever quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) survey at the end of 2014 – the industry’s deadline for first phase of rollout obligations.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) recently completed staff training at its headquarters. The aim was to impart knowledge and skills to its officials so that they could effectively monitor the QoS parameters in third-generation (3G) and 4G services, according to the regulator. PTA also acquired a solution from a Finnish company and upgraded its equipment for that purpose.
PTA Chairman Dr Ismail Shah, said:
This solution would enable the PTA to monitor licenced QoS key performance indicators of 3G and 4G networks to ensure that quality standards are met and users get the services at anticipated quality standards. CMOs have just started rolling out their services, it will, therefore, be too early to conduct a QoS survey any time soon
The PTA chief said they would do the first survey once the CMOs achieve their initial milestone – the first phase of rollout obligation
- Under the first phase – nine months from the date of award (April 23, 2014) of 3G and 4G licences – the cellular service providers have to ensure at least 20% coverage of a minimum five cities including federal and provincial capitals. At the initial stage, the PTA will train its staff in various zones before sending them into the field.
A telecom official said:
A QoS survey will be welcomed as this will help the industry improve service quality. Marketing campaigns and advertisements aimed at luring consumers by promising the fastest mobile broadband service wouldn’t help. At the end of the day, it is the user experience that will define the uptick in mobile broadband.
Technology expert Parvez Iftikhar, said:
The industry can provide the user with 0.5 Mbps to 1 Mbps, it would be a good speed for 3G services but the higher the better. However, they should provide at least 4 Mbps in case of LTE services.
According to government official, in case the CMOs fail to meet the rollout obligation and offer low-quality services, they would be penalised for that. The PTA withholds $15 million from the operators under a performance bond. This money, which is released in installments every year when the CMOs complete their rollout obligations, can be withheld. Besides, the QoS mechanism has its own penalties regarding quality of service.