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Smart, Globe fail to meet NTC standard for dropped calls

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MANILA - (UPDATE 3, 6:49 p.m.) The country's top two mobile service providers failed to meet the National Telecommunications Commission's standard for dropped calls, the regulator said on Tuesday.

According to its third-quarter Quality Of Service (QOS) report, the NTC said both Smart Communications Inc and Globe Telecom Inc registered dropped call rates (DCR) of more than 2 percent. DCR, measured as the percentage of dropped calls for every 100 calls attempted, refers to the number of ongoing calls that were involuntarily terminated.

Smart registered a 2.15 percent DCR in the third quarter QOS report, a deterioration from the previous 1.53 percent. Globe's DCR also fell to 2.75 percent from 1.66 percent in the second quarter.

In a briefing, Edgardo Cabarios, director of the NTC-Common Carrier and Authorization Department, said poor weather was a factor for the deterioration of the telcos' DCR.

Another factor was capacity overload of their cellular sites, Cabarios said.

He said the regulator already asked Smart and Globe to explain in writing no later than Monday why they both failed to meet the 2 percent DCR.

"If NTC finds that the reasons are not meritorious, telcos may be directed to cease frorm accepting new subscribers," he said.

The regulator conducted its QOS benchmarking test during the final week of September. The monitoring initiated a total of 2,189 random calls using the "drive test" method or inside a moving vehicle.

The NTC used post-paid Globe and Smart subscriber identification module cards and made the calls using regular services and not unlimited promotional services. In its previous report, the NTC used pre-paid SIM cards.

Improvements in networks

The regulator said it did not conduct the benchmarking tests for the months of July and August to afford the telcos ample time to improve their services, taking into account the results of the second quarter benchmarking, which showed failing marks for both in terms of blocked calls or grade of service (GoS).

Cabarios noted improvements in the respective networks of Smart and Globe, as they both passed the GoS of 4 percent, which means no more than four blocked calls for every 100 call attempts. 

Smart registered a 2.54 percent GoS in the third quarter from 9.95 percent previously, while Globe had 2.75 percent, also better than the earlier 4.45 percent.  

The group of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co, of which Smart is the flagship mobile provider, earlier said it completed its P67-billion network modernization program ahead of schedule.

Globe announced recently that its $700-million network modernization program was more than 60 percent done, as the telco aims to complete the shift in the first quarter of 2013.

The two telcos were also graded for their call setup time, in which Smart's 11.23 seconds beat Globe's 11.56 seconds. This pertains to how soon a connection is established.

In terms of average received signal, Smart registered a -61.14 dBm, better than Globe's -69.21 dBm. The minimum acceptable average receive signal level is -85 dBm.

For average signal quality, Smart also surpassed Globe with 0.65 and 1.03, respectively. The minimum acceptable range is from 0 to 4; the closer to 0, the better.

The NTC said a signal quality of zero indicates that there are no errors in the transmission.

'5-0'

Smart public affairs head Ramon Isberto said the latest NTC report showed the telco besting rival Globe in all 5 parameters of the QoS benchmarking tests, namely DCR, GoS, average received signal, call setup time and average signal quality.

“This time the score is ‘5-0.' What these numbers mean is that Smart subscribers enjoy better-quality service,” Isberto said in a statement.

“We are able to deliver superior voice, text, and data services even though we have the largest subscriber base," he said.

In a statement, Globe blamed its failure to meet the dropped call standard on jammers and illegal repeaters.

"In September, the interference from illegal repeaters and jammers has increased based on the number of its affected cell sites in the same period, causing the rise in the figure of dropped calls. The company has been working closely with the NTC to eliminate the unauthorized use of these equipment," the Ayala-led telco said.

Despite these illegal activities, Globe said its legacy network met NTC standards in four out of five parameters, namely GoS, call setup time, average received signal level and average signal quality.

“There is marked improvement in our own grade of service, ease of calls getting through and signal strength which are early indications that the network improvements are happening because of our ongoing modernization," said Ernest Cu, Globe president.

"While a good portion of our legacy network is still operational as these tests are being done, we are confident that we will achieve better results as soon as we approach completion of our brand new network. We expect to be ahead of our commitment of 70 percent completion by yearend," he said.

 “We are pushing forward with the modernization drive to future-proof our brand new network which can be among the best in Asia. We want to assure our over 32-million subscribers that Globe is steadily achieving its promise of unparalleled customer experience and superior network quality. As soon as we feel the full benefits of the modernization drive, this will truly set us apart in the telecommunications industry in this side of the world,” he added.

InterAksyon.com is the online news portal of TV5, a member of the PLDT group.

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