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Compensation to customers for poor internet, Nta to revoke license over poor performance (New Quality Bylaw)

Telecom service providers will have to offer their customers compensation for poor internet and telecom service quality. Nepal Telecommunication Authority (Nta) made the regulation after passing the Bylaw Regarding Telecom Service Quality 2079 (दुरसंञ्चार सेवाको गुणस्तर सम्बन्धि विनियमावली, २०७९). The bylaw will come into effect from the Baisakh 1, 2080.

It states if service providers can’t provide quality service for more than the specified time, customers can demand compensation. If such a demand is made, the concerned service provider will have to provide reasonable compensation for the telecommunication service fee from the customer. In return, service providers will have to offer reasonable compensation for poor service delivery.

Compensation for poor internet service

However, the compensation won’t be applicable in circumstances outside of the ISPs’ capability. The bylaw also states that data and voice pack subscribers can also claim compensation if a network outage keeps them off the service.

Similarly, in the case of fiber internet service, if ISPs’ network goes offline for more than the specified time, they need to provide customers with a reasonable fee in compensation. Likewise, they can also extend the validity of their service for the subscription in compensation. They must also inform the customers regarding the service extension and the compensation.

Earlier, NTA had tried to implement compensation for call drops. However, the plan couldn’t go ahead due to the lack of mechanisms in place for the telcos.

NTA Telecom poor internet service quality monitor
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Nta has scrapped its existing Bylaw Regarding Telecom Service Quality 2073 before passing the latest one.

Also read: Government can take over assets of telecom service providers

Nta to revoke license over poor telecom and mobile service delivery

Nta also decided to revoke the license of mobile and telecom service providers which cannot provide specified quality of service. The authority made the decision after introducing the new Bylaw Regarding Telecom Service Quality 2079.

As per the bylaw, service providers must set a minimum standard for basic telecom service, basic telecom service, mobile, internet, and data services.

telecom service
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If it’s not possible to maintain service quality within the specified period, service providers must submit an application to Nta. Companies can demand from Nta to extend the period required to maintain the quality of service. The basis, reasons, and details of the actions taken to maintain the quality must be stated clearly to the authority.

If the authority finds the effort reasonable, the service provider will get an additional period to restore the service quality.

NTA has also enforced a regulation that states that telecom and ISPs must place a customer service charter on their website and update it regularly.

Service providers must submit a Quality of Service (QoS) report to NTA

Section 47 of the Telecommunications Act 2053, states that the authority can revoke the license of the service provider who cannot maintain the quality of service even during the additional period.

If companies failed to produce the report or place false details, they will be subject to action as per the prevalent law. Nta can also request the companies to publish the report. While NTA can also release the report, it is possible that action would be taken against companies who fail to comply.

Similarly, service providers must also prepare Quality of Experience (QoE) reports to assess the satisfaction level of the customers. Such a report can be generated with a field visit or by using technology (e-mail, Internet, SMS, and apps) to collect the quality of experiences from users.

The authority can also ask a service provider to submit a report of the QoE of a specific area, at a time with a set questionnaire. As per the Sub-Bylaw (1), service providers must prepare an annual report and submit it at NTA which should not exceed two months past a fiscal year.

Check out: Telecom Companies Could Also Merge, NTA Passes Regulations

Operators must conduct tests using their own equipment

Likewise, telecommunication service providers must conduct quality tests and measurements regularly in the areas where they provide their service. Companies must arrange for the necessary equipment for the test.

At the same time, NTA can ask a service provider to test and submit a report on the quality of service in a particular area. For it, the regulator will itself designate an area, time, and period for the test and measurement. As per the Sub-Bylaw (1), service providers will have to present the report to NTA.

The regulator in turn can pay a field visit at any time, test and measure to determine the required parameters in the test. It can include a representative from a concerned service provider as well. Likewise, as per the By-Law (2), the individual who leads the field visit, inspection, test, or measurement must prepare a report and submit it at NTA within 15 days.

NTA itself conducts various drive tests to asses the Quality of Service of mobile service operators. But with the new bylaw coming into effect, service providers must make effort with their own resources to do so.

The bylaw seems to address the long-running customer demand for better service quality. Despite telephone and broadband penetration ever increasing, calls continue to lurk for better service. Even mobile service in Kathmandu has been found to be subpar. At this, it is only reasonable that service providers step up their effort and Nta takes a stricter stand on them.

NTA sets timeline for fixed broadband service restoration

The regulator has set a fixed time frame for service providers to resume their fixed broadband services. In urban areas, telecom companies must resume 90 percent of the disrupted services within four hours, 95 percent in 24 hours, and 99 percent in 48 hours. Likewise, in rural areas, companies must ensure that their service comes to working at 90 percent in four hours, 95 percent in 48 hours, and 99 percent in over 72 hours.

NTA Threshold for Internet Service restoration Urban areasRural areas
90 percent of total outage4 hours4 hours
95 percent of total outage24 hours48 hours
99 percent of total outage48 hours72 hours

Similarly, the bylaw requires 95% of all billing related complains be solved within 48 hours and 99% be resolved in 15 days time. Likewise, the planned outages be always less than 0.2% and service providers need to inform it to the public before 24 hours.

Services for users to check their bandwidth usage

Operators must launch services that allow users to check their data usage/volume. For fixed-line internet users, ISPs must provide arrangements for users to check their bandwidth use data such as MRTG (Multi Router Traffic Grapher). Likewise, customers must be informed of service resumption via SMS, or an app after a disruption. Automatic Ticketing System must be added to address customers’ grievances while service providers must also provide a toll-free number for customers.

Telecom and internet service providers must follow separate criteria to test and measure the quality of their services.

How do you feel about getting compensation for poor internet service with a new NTA quality bylaw? Do you think such regulation will ever substantiate in real life and encourage reliable service? Don’t forget to share your perspective with us in the comments below.

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