The Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) have missed most of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set in their licenses and the applicable regulations with respect to webpage loading time, voice, and latency, an independent survey about the 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 so as to ensure improvement in service quality up to licensed standards.
In order to measure the performance and service quality of CMOs, an independent QoS has been carried out in fourteen (14) cities of Sindh, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during 1st quarter i.e. January-March 2023. The survey was also carried out in four cities of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), in the first quarter of 2023.
The QoS survey was carried out using Automated QoS Monitoring and Benchmarking Tool i.e. “SMARTBENCHMARKER”. Drive test teams selected survey routes in such a manner as to cover main roads, service roads, and the majority of sectors/colonies.
During the survey, mobile handsets for Voice Calls, and SMS were kept in technology auto-detect mode, whereas, in the case of mobile broadband/data sessions, the mobile handsets were kept both in auto-detect and as well as locked mode.
As per QoS Regulations 2021, licensees are required to meet a webpage loading time threshold of five seconds. However, the CMOs have failed to comply with this KPI in most of the cities.
As per Cellular Mobile Network QoS Regulations 2021, licensees are required to meet the threshold of 75 milliseconds of 4G/LTE Technology:
And 150 milliseconds of 3G Technology of Latency.
In comparison with earlier surveys, CMOs have improved the network latency however, results in several cities remain below the benchmark.
During the survey, while conducting data tests in technology auto-detect mode as well as locked mode, 4G/LTE signal strength samples were recorded on survey routes.
As per Next Generation Mobile Service (NGMS) licenses, licensees are required to meet the threshold of -100 dBm or above of Reference Signal Receive Power (RSRP) with a 90 percent confidence level, however, only one operator met this benchmark in all surveyed cities.
Industry sources, however, said that the telecom industry in Pakistan is facing serious challenges, especially after the last year’s floods and the problem of Letters of Credit, which are hampering the implementation of projects and resulting in the degrading of services.
The current economic meltdown and related liquidity issues have forced telecom companies to opt for cost cuttings and face challenges in upgrading their capacity to meet demands, sources added.
The PTA in an official statement stated that the drive test teams selected survey routes in such a manner to cover main roads, service roads, and the majority of sectors/colonies in surveyed areas. Based upon the compliance level of each KPI against the threshold defined in the respective licenses and QoS Regulations, CMOs have been ranked between 1st to 4th position in Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa while 1st to 5th in Azad Jammu and Kashmir in Mobile Network Coverage and Voice services.
Further, in the Mobile Broadband Speed segment, the ranking is with respect to the highest data download and upload speed, network latency, and webpage loading time.
The survey noted that some of the voice KPIs have also been found below the licensed threshold in a few areas. A total of 15,894 call attempts were made and out of which 245 were failed attempts. In 15,649 successful call attempts, 107 calls dropped prior to completion of two minutes duration, whereas, 15,542 calls remained connected for the complete duration of two minutes.