New Delhi: The government will soon ask the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to suggest network testing norms to be followed by fixed-line broadband operators during pre-launch trial to clearly outline the duration and the number of users that could be covered in this period.

At present, there are no limits on the duration and extent of network testing for home broadband firms that offer services before the commercial launch.

The norms, when announced, would mean a new regulatory requirement for Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, which in July 2018 announced the launch of Jio GigaFiber and has opened registrations without announcing the date of commercial launch.

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The company as part of its fixed-line broadband trials has been offering unlimited internet at 100mbps (megabits per second), against a security deposit of 4,500 in New Delhi and Mumbai, for almost a year.

Jio GigaFiber will be the largest greenfield fixed-line broadband roll-out globally, with simultaneous introduction in 1,100 cities across India, Reliance Industries Ltd chairman Mukesh Ambani said at the company’s 41st annual general meeting on 5 July.

“It was decided...Trai should also give recommendations prescribing a framework for testing for fixed-line broadband also. That reference will be going to Trai immediately," telecom secretary and the chairman of the telecom commission, Aruna Sundararajan, said on Friday.

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The telecom commission, the highest decision making authority at the department of telecommunications (DoT), on Friday met to finalize rules on network testing norms for mobile services, among other issues such as regulations on machine-to-machine communication services. The telecom regulator had in December suggested that mobile service operators should be allowed an initial maximum of 90 days to carry out network testing and the number of test subscribers that can be enrolled by an operator in a licence service area should be limited to 5% of its installed network capacity for that area.

If an operator fails to complete network testing in 90 days because of valid reasons, it may request the department for additional time, which may be decided on case-to-case basis, the telecom regulator had suggested.

The recommendations came on the back of criticism from telecom operators that the regulator had failed to address network testing rules after the entry of Reliance Jio in September last year. Operators had then alleged that Reliance Jio was offering full-fledged services under the garb of test connections.

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The telecom commission on Friday accepted the regulator’s recommendations and added certain riders as well.

“Although Trai had left (decisions on whether to allow) extensions beyond 90 days to DoT, the telecom commission felt that there should be an absolute finality to it. The network testing period should be capped at 180 days (in such cases). Also, extensions cannot be given in an arbitrary manner and DoT will formulate clear guidelines for giving extensions beyond 90 days," Sundararajan said.

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