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Trai Wants Telcos To Furnish Report On RLT

The telecom regulator will seek details of the radio link timeout technology, allegedly being used for masking call drops and resulting in higher bills for subscribers

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An all-out fight is on the cards between the telecom services providers and the telecom regulator over allegations that operators are deploying Radio Link Technology to mask call drops and generate higher bills from the subscribers.

Taking cognizance of news report that telecom services providers are using the Radio Link Technology (RLT) to mask call drops that results in higher monthly bills to the subscribers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Tuesday, June 7 said it will seek details of RLT used by the operators before setting up any enquiry.

"Before setting up any enquiry, we will seek details of radio-link technology (RLT) from telecom operators around parameters that are applicable globally, they are following here and parameters that they have been following over a period of one year," Trai Chairman R S Sharma told reporters on sidelines of India Satcom event.

However, industry body representing of GSM operators - Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has already rejected allegations that operators are using RLT to mask call drops. “Mobile service operators categorically reject such allegations as mischievous, motivated and totally without merit,” COAI said last week.

As per the report for Delhi, Aircel and Vodafone have been using RLT beyond the levels their peers follow. RLT is one of the parameters which decides for how long the call should be sustained if the signal quality drops below a certain threshold.

But according to COAI the so-called ‘call drop masking technology’, is actually a network parameter called, Radio Link Time Out (RLT) feature, which is a part of the GSM standards. “The particular RLT feature has been used globally by all operators to ensure optimal customer experience and it is surprising that operators are now being accused of using it as a means to ‘mask’ call drops and disenfranchise customers, whereas its objective is just the opposite,” COAI said. It said that RLT is just one of the parameters, which decides for how long the call should be sustained if the signal quality drops below a certain threshold. “For a momentary loss of signal quality it is undesirable to disconnect the call immediately to avoid the inconvenience to the customer of redialing the number,” COAI said.

The Supreme Court recently quashed a rule that mandated telecom operators to compensate consumers Re. 1 for each call drop with the upper limit at Rs. 3 per day thereby negating the recommendations made by the regulator earlier in the year on imposing penalty to operators for call drops.

Meanwhile, reports suggest TRAI is working out a strategy to seek additional penal provisions for itself from the government to penalise the operators. When asked, telecom Secretary J S Deepak said he is yet to receive a communication from Trai to seek more powers.

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