Phub Dem

Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority’s (BICMA) mobile Quality of Service (QoS) monitoring in Thimphu throm and periphery areas found that both TashiCell and BT failed to meet the standards for file transfers and hypertext transfer protocol in some areas.  

However, TashiCell met the requirements as per the prescribed key performance indicators (≥ 6Mbps) for file transfers and hypertext transfer protocols in most of the places during peak and off-peak hours.

BICMA imposed fines on both telcos after they failed to improve the quality of service for mobile broadband despite its directives to immediately rectify and take remedial measures in the affected areas. 

BICMA Director Jigme Wangdi said the authority was not allowed to disclose the fines imposed. He said the authority imposed fines according to the Information, Communications and Media Act 2018 and their licence terms and conditions. “Besides, they were asked to work toward meeting the standard of data throughputs immediately.”

The QoS drive test is carried out for indoor and outdoor in peak and lean hours for an accurate result for three days. The test was conducted from January 24 to 27.

The test was carried out in eight mega areas, including Babesa, Changjiji, Olakha, Taba, Lanjophaka, Changzamtog, Changidaphu, and the core town area during peak off-peak hours.

The verification of the past few days has shown that in some locations such as Olakha (indoor) during peak hours and Langjophakha (indoor) during off-peak hours, the services of both telcos are below the required KPI of the QoS standards.

Jigme Wangdi said that the authority periodically conducts QoS monitoring drive tests in other dzongkhags or whenever BICMA receives formal complaints. He said that BICMA regularly receives the monthly Operation Support Systems (OSS) reports for each Base Transceiver Station (BTS) from the telecos. The team prioritises the QoS drive tests wherever there are poor OSS reports. “The OSS reports are the system-generated reports collected from the telecos monthly.”  

He said that BICMA will prioritise the QoS drive test for other dzongkhags based on the system generated OSS reports and findings shared by the telecos. “The authority has directed them to improve the network congestion wherever affected.”

While BICMA has numerous complaint redressal platforms such as Messenger, website complaint redressal platforms, email, and staff contacts, it received only one complaint.

He said that BICMA is aware of anonymous social media posts, but it is difficult to find and review them, as the location remains unknown.

He said that the authority faces numerous challenges in monitoring quality services all over the country because the office is located only in Thimphu. Besides, he said that BICMA could not effectively identify the network issues in other dzongkhags due to the lack of multiple sets of QoS monitoring equipment and technical officials to carry out simultaneous nationwide monitoring. “Financial constraints and current limited budget in carrying out nationwide QoS monitoring is an issue too.”


Effectiveness of QoS drive test

BICMA uses QoS drive test measuring equipment that detects and records a wide variety of parameters like data throughput, call drop rate and success rate, PS drop rate, and data completion rate of mobile cellular service in a given area.  

“Tests are more accurate than the open-source speed test software freely available on the internet, as a drive test is done with licensed software.”

The drive test equipment systems and methodologies are in accordance with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) requirements.