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Nepal’s major telecom operators have failed to provide convincing quality mobile service. The recent drive test report of Mobile service quality by the regulator, NTA has shown that all the operators in Nepal namely; Ntc, Ncell, and Smart Cell registered subpar performance.
The test was conducted in three districts, each of Province no.1, Madhesh Pradesh, and Bagmati Pradesh.
Earlier, a similar test had shown underwhelming performance by all telecom companies even in Kathmandu. The latest test shows that the service quality hasn’t improved.
NTA announced for EoI (Expression of Interest) last year to conduct a mobile service quality drive test. Eventually, Inclusive Everest Microtech JV attained the duties of carrying out the test and submitted its report to the regulator. The benchmark test was performed in the Biratnagar, Birtamod, Illam districts of province no.1, Janakpur, Lahan, Birgunj of Madhesh Province, and Gorkha, Damauli, and Kaski of Gandaki province.
Below, we will detail the performance recorded in the driving test of all telecom companies in the three above-mentioned provinces.
The consultant company assessed mobile service quality, as per the requirement of NTA, across 150 km of area in Province no.1. The test showed all the companies (Ntc, Ncell, and Smart Cell) fell short of providing services in the preferred range.
Call Setup Succes Rate (CSSR) should be above 99% by the standard measure. However, the operators all failed to touch the range. Ntc, the government-backed operator registered 96.18%, and Ncell touched 92.57%. Similarly, the financially stricken Smart Cell only recorded 79.96% CSR which is the lowest among the three service providers.
The dismal performance translated to the Call Drop Rate (CDR) as well. It refers to the frequency of abrupt call termination. The preferred range of call drop is just 2%. However, Ncell stood worst with 8.41%. Ntc and Smart Cell succeeded with 0.48% and 0.74% results respectively.
Likewise, all the companies have failed to meet the criteria for the Call Setup Time. In this category, Ntc drew in 6.95 seconds, Ncell 6.33 seconds, and Smart cell fared worst taking 8.72 seconds on average to set up a call.
By NTA’s standard, when one dials a number, the call needs to initiate within 5 seconds. As the stats show, none of the telcos came within the standard range.
|Drive test Province no.1||Call setup success (>99%)||Call drop rate (<2%)||Call setup time|
The underperformance of mobile services is also noticed in Madhesh Province. The QoS test was performed over 1,000 km in the region.
The report shows that Ntc came first with a 98.17% score. Meanwhile, Ncell trialed second with a 97.39% mark. Smart Cell again came last with an astonishingly weak 60.34%. The preferred range (pr) is above 99%.
The provision states that the Call Drop Rate for any telco should be 2% or below it. However, Ncell came worst with 6.30%. Ntc and Smart Cell here have done better in the driving test with 0.15% and 0.79% respectively.
All telcos in the province were unable to meet the criteria here as well. NTC showed its call took an average of 6.13 seconds to set up a call. Meanwhile, Ncell showed taking 6.68 seconds. Smart Cell took 9.46 seconds to make a call happen, by far the worst by the standard provision. NTA’s preferred range is 5 seconds or below.
|Drive test in Madhesh Province||Call setup success |
|Call drop rate|
|Call setup time|
(pr. within 5 seconds)
Despite having popular tourist hotpots and the country’s affluent cities like Pokhara, when it came to mobile services, telcos failed here too. In different categories, three telcos couldn’t show convincing performance as per the drive test report.
The test was conducted in three districts spanning over 950 km in the hilly province.
In this category, Ntc drew in a 97.89% call success rate. Ncell came second with the telco making 96.25% successful calls. Smart Cell again came well short of the preferred range of 99% above. The third-largest operator in Nepal came with a fragile 59.18% call success rate.
The Call Drop Rate is preferred to be below 2%. But Ncell couldn’t succeed with a 4.85% call drop rate. Smart Cell also failed in this category with 2.02% of its calls dropping. Ntc though succeeded in the criteria.
All the companies have failed to meet the criteria for Call Setup Time in the Gandaki Province.
As per the test, Ntc took 6.16 seconds to set up a call, Ncell took 6.18 and Smart Cell came worst with 9.29 seconds.
|Drive test in Gandaki Province||Call setup success (pr. 99%+)||Call drop rate|
|Call setup time|
(pr. within 5 seconds)
The drive tests are routine monitoring by regulators/telcos to evaluate the Quality of Mobile Service. But frustratingly, the results are not exciting. The three telcos in Nepal have often failed to reach the preferred range for different categories in these tests. This highlights a need to focus on improving the quality of services by the telcos.
Communication is the key and mobile service is the most immediate vehicle for connectivity. The country striving for Digital Nepal must certainly fair better in mobile services.
In their defense, the uneven terrain and the huge spending requirements for more towers may have proved a hindrance to the efforts of improving infrastructure. Check out: 4G Users in Nepal Crosses 1.7 Crores, Ntc Reigns Tall
But the telecom companies need to coordinate and cooperate with the government, the regulator, and other stakeholders to enhance quality. We hope the companies do acknowledge the shortcomings of their mobile services and start upgrading them in near future.
What is the state of mobile services quality at your place, based on your experience? Do comment below.
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