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Too Little Too Late: Post Reliance Jio “Test Launch”, DoT Defines Network Testing Norms

  • Network testing shall have a time limit of 90 days, extendable to 180 days if DoT permits. DoT and TRAI have to be informed about the testing 15 days before launch. 
  • Telecom operator, during network testing, does not have to adhere to a defined quality of service. 

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has set out the norms for network testing, (detailed below), well over 2 years after the government was called out for letting Reliance Jio launch its telecom services for free, giving free calling and internet access to a seemingly unlimited number of test subscribers. The right way of doing this would have been to ask Reliance Jio to stop its so-called test launch then, and set out the norms. The absence of norms should have been no excuse, and there is precedence: I’m reminded of the Reserve Bank of India, which in the absence of mobile wallet norms, had in 2006, asked Wallet365 to stop services until norms were defined.

The launch of Reliance Jio’s services led to a significant consolidation of telecom in India: Vodafone and Idea Cellular combined, and Airtel lapped up other smaller mobile operators, including Telenor. Effectively, it has led to a reduction in competition, and this may have implications for competition in telecom in India over the next few years: it is unlikely that new players will enter the Indian telecom market.

At the same time, the benefit of Reliance Jio’s launch are clear: there has been a significant increase in Internet users, a dramatic increase in mobile Internet usage, and a sharp shift from 2G and 3G services to 4G.

Notification from the DoT

No. 20-577/2016-AS-I

Department of Telecommunications,

Access Service Division-I

1203, Sanchar Bhavan, New Delhi

Dated the 9th October, 2018


The UL with Access Services, CMTS and UAS licences for mobile services.

Subject: Norms for Network testing before launch of Commercial Services

For the purpose of network testing before launch of commercial services, following conditions are hereby specified:

  1. The number of test subscribers that can be enrolled by a Licensee in an LSA shall be limited to 5 % of is installed network capacity for that LSA. The service provider will submit the detailed capacity calculators of the network to DoT and TRAI at least 15 days before commencing enrollment of test subscribers.

  2. If a Licensee wants to enroll test subscribers in its network before the commercial launch of services for testing purpose, it should give prior intimation to DoT and TRAI at least 15 days before commencing enrollment of test subscribers.

  3. All licensing provisions related to the security and privacy such as ensuring advocate verification of each and every customer before enrolling him as a subscriber, protection and privacy of communication, maintaining Call Data Record (CDR)/ IP Detail Record (IPDR), Confidentiality of Information, Lawful Interception & monitoring etc. must be compiled complied with by the licensee.

  4. If a Licensee wants to enroll test subscribers for testing of its network it shall transparently give the following information to the test subscribers at the time of enrollment:

    1. During the test phase tsp is not mandated to adhere to specified level of QoS. Therefore, they may be sub-optimal level of network performance
    2. The scope of services during the test period.
    3. MNP facility will not be available till the services are commercially launched.
    4. There will not be any charge (fixed charge or usage based charge) during the test phase.
    5. Likely date of commercial launch.
  5. There shall be no restriction on the time-limit, if the network testing is conducted using Test SIMs (i.e. SIMs given to employees and business partners for test purpose) only.

  6. There shall be a limit of 90 days on the test case involving test subscribers. However if the TSP fails to conclude network testing during due to valid reasons, it may make representations to DoT, seeking additional time for network testing given giving detailed justification, which may be decided by DoT on case to case basis. Requisite norms to be followed for extension of Network testing will be formulated by DoT. The total time period for network testing provided to the TSP shall not exceed 180 days.

  7. During test phase, the licensee shall be bound to submit test subscriber related statistics and their usage, and other information as per prevailing instructions of DoT / TRAI. The MNP facility shall not be extended to network under testing.

– Medianama

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