A telecom tower stands of the city skyline at dusk. (Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg)

Telecom Department Limits Subscriber Enrollment During Network Test To 5%

The telecom department has restricted enrollment of test subscribers on the network of a new mobile operator to five percent of its network capacity during trial phase and testing period to maximum six months.

"The number of test subscribers that can be enrolled by a licensee in licensed service area (LSA or telecom circle) shall be limited to five percent of its installed network capacity for that LSA," the department said in its order. The order came in to effect from Oct. 9.

The telecom operator will need to submit details of network capacity to the Department of Telecom and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India at least 15 days before commencing enrollment of test subscribers.

The guidelines come after issues of continuous enrollment of test subscribers when Reliance Jio started its network test. Rivals of Jio approached the Telecom Department and the telecom regulator to act against the practice, alleging that Jio is onboarding customers by masquerading them as test subscribers.

Mukesh Ambani-led Jio started testing of its 4G network with its employees first in late 2015 and gradually opened it for all customers without announcing the final date for commercial launch of its 4G services. The company had enrolled around 15 lakh customers before commercially starting its service on Sept. 5.

The Telecom Department order restricts network test to 90 days and on case-to-case basis the test phase can extended to 180 days.

There shall be limit of 90 days on the test phase involving test subscribers. However, if the telecom service provider fails to conclude network testing due to valid reasons, it may make representations to Telecom Department seeking additional time for network testing giving detailed justification. The total time period for network testing provided to the telecom service provider shall not exceed 180 days.
Department of Telecommunications.

During the test phase, the subscriber on the network will not be able to avail mobile number portability service.

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