TRAI Calls on Speed Test Apps to Understand Their Methodologies

Amid a raging debate on efficacy and results of speed test apps, TRAI plans to ‘study’ the methodology and other nuances of such applications used for checking upload and download speeds of data, an official said.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is calling major speed test apps for a presentation to “understand” their methodology.

The exercise is expected to culminate into a ‘paper’ that will be placed in the public domain in the coming months.

The sector regulator plans to meet 7-8 mobile Internet speed testing firms, including Ookla, over the next one or two months, in this regard.

The move assumes significance as Airtel has used Ookla results in the past to assert itself as fastest network, a claim contested by Reliance Jio.

On the other hand, Mukesh Ambani owned Jio has been recording highest speed over the past few months on TRAI’s own speed test app called ‘MySpeed’ app. But broadband speed testing firm OpenSignal has raised questions on TRAI’s 4G test method.

TRAI Calls on Speed Test Apps to Understand Their MethodologiesTRAI hopes that its initiative would not only help raise consumer awareness about the various apps and choices available to users but could also lead to improvements in MySpeed app.

“There may also be consumers who have never used these apps to check speeds. The idea is to make the public aware of all the options available, and educate the customer,” a TRAI official said on condition of anonymity.

Overall, TRAI aims to understand the working of such apps and not to rank them or set standards for the apps.

“There are times when variations are found even when tests are conducted in quick succession. So we thought why not call them to see the working,” the official said.

TRAI is seeking to do an exploratory research on methods as well as factors that affect the test results, and has written to various firms that provide these apps to come and make a presentation.

“It may, however, take some time as many of the representatives are not based here,” the official added.

Speed tests have been subject of much debate in the past, with telcos touting the results to woo customers and even designing high-decibel ad campaigns around it.

In March this year, Airtel and Jio clashed head-on in the battle for data speed supremacy with the newcomer objecting to Airtel’s claim of being the fastest network, and the incumbent arguing back that the charges were a deliberate attempt to malign the brand and misguide customers.

Jio Effect: Airtel Offers 84GB Data for 84 Days at Rs. 399 to Beat Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan Offer

The new Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan Offer pack at Rs. 399 is the latest offering from the disruptive operator to offer its customers bundled data, free calls and more services at low prices. Seeing this, Vodafone, Idea and Aircel had launched similar plans with 84GB data and 84 day validity. Now, Airtel has joined the fray with the Rs. 399 plan offering 1GB data per day and bundled calls for 84 days. Notably, Airtelhas clarified that the new prepaid plan offer is applicable only on 4G SIMs and cannot be clubbed with any other plan offered by the company.

With the new Rs. 399 plan, Airtel claims to offer unlimited local and STD calls, along with the abovementioned 84GB data. However, the terms and conditions on the Airtel website suggest that post 1,000 minutes (Local/STD on Mobile/Landline) of usage in a week, customers will be charged Rs. 0.10 per minute (Airtel to Airtel Network Calls) and Rs. 0.30 per minute (other Network Calls) post the consumption for rest of the 7 day period.

Jio Effect: Airtel Offers 84GB Data for 84 Days at Rs. 399 to Beat Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan OfferThis means that if a customer has consumed the free call time offered with the plan before the week ends, they will then have to pay for the calls at the aforementioned rate. As you might have noticed by now, the new Airtel plan seems to share similarities with Reliance Jio’s plan, which was unveiled last month and offers same benefits as the Airtel plan. Vodafone is offering similar data and calling benefits to students at Rs. 352, Idea to all consumers at Rs. 453, and Aircel at Rs. 348; notably, the Idea and Aircel plans have the data capped to 3G speeds. has also introduced a similar plan post the initial announcement by Reliance Jio.

Airtel has also announced that the unused data from its Big Bytes scheme with up to 1000GB free data can be carried over to the next month till March 2018, which will essentially be the end of the year cycle. Airtel Broadband Big Byte Offer, which was launched back in June, offers up to 1000GB of high-speed data to its broadband users.

India’s Digital Economy Not Doing Well in Creating Infrastructure: TRAI Chairman

While India as a digital economy has performed well in terms of building software applications and services, it lags in terms of infrastructure, the telecom regulator said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Stating the three parts of the vision area of “Digital India” as infrastructure, software and services on demand, and digital empowerment of people, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma said infrastructure is the area it is working on.

“From a broad point of view, we have done very well in the middle layer, of creating applications and services. However, we have not done so well in the first layer of creating infrastructure, especially the hardware one,” Sharma said while addressing a forum ‘Create4India’ organised by Digital India Foundation (DIF).

“We have 300 million Internet subscribers, but in broadband, which should mean 2Mbps plus (in speed) the numbers have drastically reduced. I think that is one area that we are working on,” he added.

He also suggested that the inherent problems in infrastructure can be dealt with by using alternate means like digital television or incentivising the use of ‘BharatNet’.

“In the developed world, the average global fixed piped wired-line penetration is 46 percent, while in India, it is just about 7 percent. We get 93 percent of our data from mobile and 7 percent from the fixed line,” said Sharma.

India's Digital Economy Not Doing Well in Creating Infrastructure: TRAI Chairman“The world on an average gets 46 percent from fixed line and 54 percent from mobile. That is a problem. We cannot immediately build those fixed lines. Therefore, what we have suggested is that why don’t we use some other infrastructure which are built up,” he added.

The DIF, which aims at fostering digital inclusion and adoption, hosted the inaugural edition of ‘Create4India’, a forum where industry leaders and policy makers exchanged views on necessitating an ecosystem approach towards supporting the growth of India’s creative economy, backed by policies based on respect for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Copyright.

Sharma brought the regulator’s perspective to the discussion, sharing his belief in a transparent mechanism of open consultation with the industry and the stakeholders, with accountability to the people at large.

Contributing to the discussion, a report on ‘Promoting the Creative Economy: India’s $100 Billion Imperative’ was released by Koan Advisory, a research-driven advisory firm, combining legal, economic and investment expertise.

Jio Effect: RCom Introduces Rs. 299 Rental Plan With Unlimited Calls, Data

Keeping up with the current trend of offers galore, Reliance Communications (RCom) has announced its all-new Rs. 299 rental plan for its subscribers. The company announced the all-new rental plan in a tweet on Wednesday. It said, “Reliance Mobile introduces the lowest rates ever! Starting at Rs. 299 monthly rental.”

The latest rental plan from RCom can be seen as a way to counter other dominant players like Airtel, Vodafone, and Jio. The teaser confirms that the Rs. 299 plan for RCom users will offer unlimited calls, texts, and data. However, the exact details of the new rental plan are not available as of now. RCom subscribers can head to Eshop.com to avail the new offer.

Jio Effect: RCom Introduces Rs. 299 Rental Plan With Unlimited Calls, DataFor those unaware, RCom is owned by  which can be considered struggling to keep up with other dominant players. Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications reported tumbled share and bondsin May this year, and indirectly blamed Mukesh Ambani-led firm Reliance Jio for offering “freebies”.

Few weeks back, RCom announced new offer for interested dongle buyers where it offered 4G SIM and 1GB per day data benefit at Rs. 5,199. The company also announced Wi-Pod dongle worth Rs. 3,200 where it offered 365 days of validity. Under the deal, interested users got a 4G SIM card with 1GB data per day limit at Rs. 500 per month rental.

Currently, Reliance Jio’s Dhan Dhana Dhan Offer priced at Rs. 399 is the latest offering from the operator, and it offers bundled data, free calls and messages.

RCom, earlier this year, received 99.99 percent shareholders’ approval for merger of its wireless business with Aircel.

TRAI Defends Data Privacy Paper, Says Consumer Interest Vital

Defending the move of issuing a discussion paper on data privacy and ownership, TRAI chief R S Sharma has said the regulator raised the “right questions” to protect the legitimate interest of telecom consumers, and is mandated to do so.

Brushing off the criticism, the TRAI chief sought to allay industry’s fears on overregulation and jurisdiction, saying people should not presume the outcome or “cry foul” at this stage when the consultation has just about started.

He hoped the consultation paper would create much-needed awareness among telecom consumers about the concept of data protection and ownership, and admitted that value of data is “hugely underestimated” at present.

In an interview to PTI, Sharma said: “I am not raising any undue or illegitimate question. We are raising the right questions about protection of consumer interest and no one should have any problem with that…it is a part of mandate given by law to TRAI, to protect the interest of consumers.”

When asked about industry’s concerns on overregulation by TRAI, Sharma pointed out that only a consultation paper has been released at this point.

“But to cry foul at this stage that we are overreaching, is not correct,” he said.

Sharma said norms will have to be strengthened as data takes centrestage.

Asked if he anticipated such an opposition to the discussion paper during the course of consultation, Sharma said, “one cannot assume what we are going to do will be against one section (or another)…we are going to protect the legitimate interest of our consumers. That is our main mandate”.

On the question of jurisdiction and timing of the paper when the apex court is examining whether right to privacy is a fundamental right and IT Ministry has constituted a panel to work on a data protection framework, Sharma said TRAI’s consultation is limited to telecom networks.

TRAI Defends Data Privacy Paper, Says Consumer Interest Vital“This is a very limited consultation, with an intention to create a robust framework for protection, privacy and ownership of data in the telecom sector. Privacy as a larger concept is not being touched…We are only talking of data generated in telecom (network),” he said.

In any case, TRAI’s recommendations can also be used as inputs by the government or appropriate authorities, he added.

Earlier this week, the regulator floated a discussion paper on developing a framework that can give people more control over their personal data and prevent chances of misuse by various sources amid lingering privacy concerns.

The paper is titled ‘Privacy, Security and Ownership of Data in the Telecom Sector’ and stakeholders have been asked to submit their comments by September 8 and counter comments by September 22, 2017.

However, cellular body COAI claimed that questions posed by TRAI paper are very broad and that “the risk is of over regulating an industry where technological changes and innovation can rapidly make any regulation outdated”.

“There are also questions of jurisdiction that need to be answered…TRAI is better off holding workshops and conferences on the subject and then decide the question of the desirability of a discussion paper and its boundaries,” Rajan Mathews, Director General of COAI said.

Jio Effect: Aircel Offers 168GB Data, Unlimited Calls for 84 Days at Rs. 419 in Northeast, at Rs. 449 in J&K

With the Reliance Jio juggernaut continuing to make headways in the telecom industry, rival operator Aircel has launched two new plans that offer 2GB data per day and unlimited calls with 84-day validity. These plans have the same validity as the Rs. 399 Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan Offer, which provides half the data (at high speeds), unlimited calls, free SMSs, and access to the Jio apps suite. The Aircel prepaid plans are priced at Rs. 419 in the Northeast, and at Rs. 449 in J&K. Apart from this, the operator has launched another plan at Rs. 229 for the J&K circle, with fewer benefits.

The Aircel Rs. 419 plan for the Northeast region comes with 168GB data provided in allowances of 2GB per day for the 84-day period. Along with this, the operator is providing unlimited free calls to any network with this pack. The Aircel data network will provide the Internet at 3G or 2G speeds.

Jio Effect: Aircel Offers 168GB Data, Unlimited Calls for 84 Days at Rs. 419 in Northeast, at Rs. 449 in J&KAircel’s Rs. 449 prepaid pack for J&K circle comes with the same data and calling benefits. On the other hand, the Rs. 229 Aircel pack provides 84GB data for 84 days at 1GB data per day; the unlimited local and STD calling benefits are also limited to the Aircel network only. The Internet will work at 3G or 2G speeds with both plans.

Harish Sharma, Regional Manager, North, Aircel, said, “The new plans are a special offering of unlimited voice calls and unmatched 3G data which will empower our customers especially students and working professionals to stay connected the whole day and get an uninterrupted access to the internet with the best value for money products and enjoy the unexplored world of videos, music, movies, and entertainment.”

The Rs. 399 Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan Offer provides 84GB data for 84 days, but the speeds are said to be 4G. For 2GB data per day, consumers need to buy the Rs. 509 plan, but its validity is 56 days – 28 days lesser than that of the Aircel plans. Aircel has a plan with 84GB data and 84-day validity in UP East circle as well. Other Reliance Jio rivals such as Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular also offer prepaid plans with validities of 84 days, but with 84GB of data.

TRAI Website to Soon Display Tariff Plans of Telecom Operators

Telecom subscribers will be able to soon check tariff plans of different operators on the regulator’s website, improving transparency over rates, TRAI Chairman RS Sharma has said.

Going further, TRAI is mulling allowing ‘export’ or use of that data to enable people to build tariff-comparison apps and products, just as one sees for insurance or airline fares.

The regulator has recently asked all operators to start filing their tariffs in electronic form along with physical submission, and intends to do away with the physical filing entirely, albeit in a phased manner.

As per some estimates, nearly 24,000 rates are filed in a year by telecom companies – the number includes tariff plans for all operators for various circle as well as special tariff vouchers.

“We will not only have transparent tariff display on the TRAI site, we will also probably enable machine-readable data which can be exported, so people can build applications on top of it. We will provide APIs (code that enables two software programs to talk),” Sharma told PTI.

TRAI Website to Soon Display Tariff Plans of Telecom OperatorsThe ‘export’ of data will allow app makers to build products based on the tariff information displayed on TRAI site.

“…so more applications can be built on top of that. For example, in insurance, there are apps which say which policy is the best. One can also do a comparison for airfares.

Similarly, people should be able to build apps on top of it (tariff data) to suggest to consumers the best plan to buy in an area,” Sharma said.

Asked about the timeline for enabling export of data for the apps, he said: “We will do it pretty soon. Now, we are asking them (telcos) to submit data online which will reduce their workload also.”

Online filing of tariffs by telcos will mean more convenience and efficiencies in the system.

“They (telcos) have to do a lot of paper submission, online filing will make life easier for everyone,” he added. Sharma noted that complaints about people-specific (customised) tariffs recently had also prompted the regulator to reiterate its stance on transparency and non-discriminatory framework to the telecom operators.

Earlier this year, Reliance Jio had charged incumbent operators of lining up customised retention offers for subscribers wanting to shift out of their network.

Jio had then alleged that such offers being presented to customers “surreptitiously” on one-to-one basis, are also not being openly publicised on websites of incumbent telcos.

Reliance Jio Adds More Subscribers Than Airtel, Vodafone Combined in June: TRAI

According to fresh report released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Reliance Jio has added more than 6 million wireless subscribers just in the month of June. Its competitor Bharti Airtel, in comparison, added over 2 million subscribers, while Vodafone managed less than 1 million. Evidently, Reliance Jio added more customers than Airtel and Vodafone combined.

With this increase, Reliance Jio now enjoys 10.39 percent of market share in terms of wireless subscribers, whereas Airtel still sits in the top bracket with 23.65 percent market share. Vodafone comes in second with 17.86 percent and Idea holds 16.54 percent as of June 30 this year. However, at the rate at which Relaince Jio is adding to its subscriber base, it will only be a matter of time, before it takes over all its competitors in the wireless category. Reliance Jio saw a growth of 5.14 percent in one month, while Airtel saw a growth of only 0.74 percent.

The report also highlights the abysmal state of affairs of public sector units like BSNL and MTNL in India. As of June 30, the report states that private access service providers held 90.92 percent market share of the wireless subscribers whereas BSNL and MTNL, the two PSU access service providers, had a market share of only 9.08 percent.

Reliance Jio Adds More Subscribers Than Airtel, Vodafone Combined in June: TRAIThe TRAI report reveals that the total number of wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA & LTE) increased from 1,180.82 million at the end of May to 1,186.84 million at the end of June this year, thereby registering a monthly growth rate of 0.51 percent. The wireless subscription in urban areas increased from 676.65 million at the end of May to 680.66 million at the end of June, and wireless subscription in rural areas also increased from 504.18 million to 506.18 million during the same period. The monthly growth rates of urban and rural wireless subscription were 0.59 percent and 0.40 percent respectively. The share of urban and rural wireless subscribers in total number of wireless subscribers was 57.35 percent and 42.65 percent respectively at the end of June, 2017.

The share or rural wireless subscribers is expected to see a major boost with the launch of JioPhone at the Reliance AGM this year. The JioPhone is pegged to be free of cost, bought with a deposit of Rs. 1,500 refundable after three years. Here’s how you can prebook the phone, the documents required for booking, and all the other information you need to know to get your hands on the Jio Phone. You can read the full TRAI report here.

Jio Phone Finally Released as Beta Testing Commences

The first batch of JioPhone units will become available Tuesday, August 15 as beta trials of the 4G feature phone are scheduled to commence today, a little over three weeks after it was unveiled at the Reliance Industries AGM 2017. This, of course, does not mean the handset has been released in the market, only that Reliance Jio has made it available to a select group of users to test it out before its public release in September – the phone is being beta tested by Jio employees for now. The Jio Phone beta trials will allow the company to identify and iron out software and hardware issues before it goes in the hands of consumers in September.

JioPhone has several feature that have not been commonly seen on feature phones, such as 4G VoLTEInternet, compatibility with multimedia apps, and option to mirror content to television sets via a proprietary cable. This beta trial period will allow the company to test how these features, along with the other features the handset has, to iron out the kinks. As was the case with the Reliance Jio telecom network, the JioPhone beta trials will likely be limited to employees of the company, and people in their network.

Jio Phone bookings open offline

While the 4G feature phone will not be available to use for consumers till September, bookings for the device will begin both online and offline on August 24. Gadgets 360 has discovered that certain offline retailers in the Delhi-NCR area are already taking JioPhone bookings, ahead of the official schedule. You will need a copy of your Aadhaar card to make the booking, and only one unit will be made available to a consumer. If you want to book multiple units, the only option is to make a bulk order in the name of your organisation; the company’s GSTN or PAN will have to be provided for the bulk order.

If you book a JioPhone offline right now, the device will be delivered between September 1 and September 4. The Rs. 1,500 refundable security deposit will have to be paid to the retailer only at the time of picking up the handset, not while booking.

Jio Phone specifications, features

To recap on the JioPhone, the entry-level phone will come with unlimited voice, data, and texts. Customers will have to recharge with a Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan monthly pack of Rs. 153, which will give them free voice, texts, unlimited data (high-speed data capped at 500MB per day), and free access to Jio apps for 28 days. At the 40th AGM, Ambani also announced an accessory called Jio Phone TV-Cable that will allow users to connect their phones with any kind of television sets. For connecting phone to TV, users will have to recharge with the Rs. 309 per month pack.

JioPhone Specifications Features Launched Mukesh Ambani Jio Phone Features

JioPhone features revealed at Reliance AGM on July 21

Talking about Jio Phone features, the device comes with an alphanumeric keypad, 2.4-inch display with QVGA display, microSD card slot, torchlight, FM radio. It will be a single SIM handset that works only on 4G VoLTE networks. The phone supports voice commands and 22 Indian languages, and has a panic button as well. A short demo of the voice command feature on Jio Phone was showcased during the keynote presentation where the device was able to play music via Jio Music.

Additionally, the handset will also come with a panic button that is enabled when long-pressing the number 5. The Jio phone will come with NFC support for digital payments that will be rolled out to users via OTA software upgrade. Qualcomm and Spreadtrum have confirmed that their chips power the new feature phone. The phone does not have WhatsApp support at the moment, though we did catch glimpse of a Web browser, Facebook, and PM Modi’s Mann Ki Baat broadcast during the unveiling at the Reliance AGM.

Jio Phone to Hit Telecom Sector, Erode Revenues: Vodafone to DoT

The country’s second largest telecom player Vodafone expects Jio’s ‘effective free phone’ with unlimited calling to erode operators’ revenues which are already under pressure and sought reduction in various levies imposed by the government as a breather to the industry.

“…the new operator continues to aggressively under-price its services, including announcing launch of ‘Effective Zero Price Feature Phone’ with unlimited voice.

“This is likely to cause further erosion in revenue for existing operators,” the company in a letter to the Telecom Commission Member (Finance) Anuradha Mitra.

RIL Chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani recently launched JioPhone, a 4G feature phone at a one-time fully refundable deposit of Rs. 1,500 per unit. JioPhone beta testing starts from August 15. The booking will start from September 24 online as well as through Reliance Retail and Jio stores.

Vodafone said there is continuous decline in its revenue from telecom services and it has recorded further decline of 3.41 percent in the the quarter ended June 2017.

It also called for reducing the interest rate applied for deferred spectrum payments.

“…a reduction in the interest rate applied for deferred spectrum payments is necessary to reduce burden on operators.

Hence, we have requested reduction from 10 percent to G Sec rate of 6.25 percent – 6.5 percent on deferred payment,” the letter said.

Vodafone said that revenue share with the government imposes huge burden on telecom operators even though companies purchase spectrum at market price.

Jio Phone to Hit Telecom Sector, Erode Revenues: Vodafone to DoTThe company requested the DoT to consider recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for reducing Universal Service Obligation Fund from 5 percent to 3 percent as private operators have already rolled out services in rural areas and current call termination rates are very low.

“…despite having rolled out in rural areas, we still have to pay USO and the mobile termination rates are also below cost which adversely impact us since majority of the calls in the rural areas are incoming,” the letter said.

At present, a telecom operator charges 14 paise for every incoming call that it gets from network of other operators.

“Therefore, we earnestly request kind consideration and early decision on reduction in the USO levy from 5 percent to 3 percent and reduction of interest charges along with rescheduling the payment period, which has been tabled before DoT and IMG (inter-ministerial group),” Vodafone said.

As per official data, revenues of telecom operators from services dipped by about 15 percent to Rs. 40,831 crores in the January-March quarter this year compared to Rs. 48,379 crores in the same period of last year.

The government has formed an IMG which is expected to submit its recommendation very soon to address financial woes of the telecom sector.