Kathmandu, July 18
Though the Telecom Service Quality Bylaw that came into effect on Sunday requires domestic telecom companies to compensate customers for faulty service, telecom firms have said that they are not in a position to reimburse customers for all types of quality defects that customers face in their network.
Stating that interruptions in telecom services are not only due to defective services from telecom companies but that the quality of mobile sets too have a role in determining telecom services, Nepal Telecom (NT) and Ncell, last week, have written to the telecom sector regulator — Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) — highlighting the difficulty in implementing the new compensatory provision.
As per the Telecom Service Quality Bylaw, telecom service providers are required to compensate their customers if they are unable to deliver quality services. The bylaw has stated that telecom operators cannot charge customers for the last pulse duration of mobile calls if the phone call was dropped due to poor network of the telecom service provider. Currently, mobile pulse duration of calls has been fixed at 10 seconds. Similarly, the bylaw has also fixed the quality standards for data and voice services and telecom companies will have to compensate their customers if they cannot fulfil the set quality standard.
“There is no argument that we should improve our service quality as much as possible. However, we also need to take into account the fact that poor network quality and problems like dropped calls are also the outcomes of inferior handsets,” said Pratibha Vaidya, spokesperson for NT. “It is unjustifiable for telecom companies to reimburse for all service quality faults, including call drops that customers have to face.”
Besides substandard handsets, Vaidya also stated that poor telecom network and call drops can occur when the mobile phone user moves to a place where there is no network service of the concerned telecom company and to places like building basements and elevators where telecom signals are usually poor.
Like NT, private telecom service provider, Ncell, has also stated the compensatory provision cannot be implemented technically.
NTA had introduced such regulatory provision for the first time in the domestic telecom sector in a bid to regulate services being provided by domestic telecom operators following rising complaints related to telecommunication services.
Meanwhile, NTA officials said that the compensatory provision was introduced after holding ample discussions with telecom firms and other stakeholders and thus, will be enforced.
“However, there are possibilities to extend the implementation deadline of this provision so that telecom companies are technically ready to actually start compensating customers,” said Min Prasad Aryal, spokesperson for NTA.
A version of this article appears in print on July 19, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.