The Department of Telecommunications has requested the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to frame rules for testing a new mobile network before the commercial launch of its services, the telecom body said. Trai has already started the consultation process in this regard and is looking at various aspects of testing such as test cards, limiting the number of test cards, test duration among others.

This move comes in the light of the controversy that followed Reliance Jio Infocomm’s launch in September 2016 and its free trial run.

“The DoT has requested the Authority to provide its recommendations on testing of network before commercial launch of services including enrolment of customers for testing purposes before commercial launch, duration of testing period etc,” Trai said in its consultation paper.

In 2016, a telecom service provider had tested its long-term evolution network on a large scale, the consultation paper said. It had enrolled lakhs of subscribers as test users before the commercial launch, to which other incumbent network operators had raised concerns, it said.

The operators had claimed that providing services free of cost before the commercial launch was “generating non-level playing field conditions”, the paper said. “The volume of voice traffic generated by such test users, due to free offers, is choking Points of Interconnect, and impairing the quality of service of other operators,” the operators had alleged.

Earlier, mobile networks such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular had alleged that Jio had been offering free services since December 2015, when it was testing its networks. In February this year, Airtel had moved the Competition Commission of India against Jio’s “predatory free pricing strategy”.

Soon after its September 1, 2016 launch, Jio had started claiming that its rival telecom companies had not provided the required interconnections, causing a large number of call drops.