Fixed Broadband: PTA Issues Revised Quality of Service Regulations – Technology

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has issued a revised version of the “Fixed Broadband Quality of Service (QoS) Regulations, 2022” to address growing concerns over the quality of broadband services due to the number of growing number of subscribers.

The PTA has reviewed the existing “Broadband Service Quality Regulations, 2014” and issued revised fixed broadband regulations after due consultation with all stakeholders.

These regulations have been updated to take into account existing and emerging fixed broadband technologies, including xDSL (digital subscriber line), cable broadband (DOCSIS 3.x), fixed wireless, fiber to the home ( FTTH)/GPON and satellite broadband, etc. The aim is to better gauge the services agreed by service providers with end users.

The regulations include aspects such as: fixed broadband internet speeds for download data rate must be at least 4 Mbps (instead of 256 kbps) and 2 Mbps for upload. 80% of advertised download speeds must be available to end users at all times.

In addition, the PTA will not only conduct service quality surveys and test the quality of services provided to consumers, but will also implement and execute the recurring National Broadband Measurement (NBM) program. For this purpose, pre-configured devices should be placed with a group of volunteers and line performance should be continuously measured. The results are available on dedicated servers placed in places designated by decision of the Authority. These tests can be carried out either by authorized agents of the PTA or through a designated agency engaged for this purpose.

Based on technological advances in fixed broadband networks, more stringent thresholds have been set for existing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) (e.g. latency, packet loss, jitter, etc.). Additionally, a new set of KPIs have been introduced, including Voice over IP (VoIP) services, webpage load time, and bandwidth usage.

Particular emphasis was placed on the implementation of the “Net Neutrality” concept. Broadband Service Providers (BSPs) must treat all internet communications equally and are prohibited from slowing down or throttling internet speeds in order to delay/block apps, websites or other content on the internet . Network providers carry all services equally, regardless of their type.

The PTA is committed to providing consumers with high quality services and promoting rapid technological advancements in the country.

Service Uptime Hit Rate is the metric to determine the uptime of broadband service to end users in the event of scheduled or unscheduled startup of the customer’s end device/equipment. The benchmark for service time success rate should be ? 98 percent.

Network availability is the measure of the degree to which the network (access and core) is operational and not in an outage or down state at any given time. It measures total network downtime, including ATM/IP switches, multiplexers, routers, email facilities (if applicable), and internet backbone connection over a month. All scheduled downtime for network system maintenance and upgrades will be excluded from the calculation. However, any access network manager must inform its users of these maintenance deadlines. The benchmark for network availability; Access nodes should be 99% and for primary nodes should be 99.9%.

Download data rate is the data transmission rate achieved for downloading specified test files between a remote website and a user’s computer to verify the actual download speed available to the subscriber.

The benchmark for download data rate must be ≥ 80% of the consumer broadband plan/bundle’s advertised speed, and this must be experienced at all times.

The size of the test file must be at least 10 GB or as determined by the Authority. It must be downloaded from the website decided by the Authority, as long as the choice is consistent for all.

Download data rate is defined as the data transmission rate achieved to download specified files between a user’s computers to a remote website to verify the actual download speed available to the subscriber.

A test file must be at least 500 MB in size or as determined by the Authority. The file should be uploaded to a download server/website decided by the Authority, as long as the choice is consistent for all.

Network Latency/Round-Trip Time (RTT): Latency or Round-Trip Time (RTT) is the measure of how long a round-trip time for a data packet between a source and a specific destination. It is used to measure the delay on a network at a given time. The higher the latency within a network, the longer it takes for packets to reach their destination.

The RTT test must be performed using a “ping” based on a minimum standard packet size of 32 bytes, and must be measured up to the edge node of the network, connected to the Internet cloud or any other server decided by the authority .

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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