The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) published its quarterly Quality Of Service (QoS) Monitoring Test Reports on 21 May 2014.
The reports showed that Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C failed numerous quality tests in the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal.
The focus of the drive-test was on network performance in terms of accessibility and retention of voice calls. The metric used to measure the above were Call Setup Success Rate (CSSR) and Drop Call Rate (DCR).
Faulty equipment and inaccurate results
Information has now emerged that the regulator’s testing and monitoring system produced questionable results.
Icasa has also allegedly used the wrong files and data to compile their quality of service report.
MTN SA’s transmission planning and optimisation general manager, Robin Maduray, said that they informed Icasa about the problem with the IVR test monitoring system.
Strange testing routes
Icasa has also been criticized for using strange routes for its quality testing. This includes routes in nature reserves where it is difficult for mobile operators to get permission to erect towers.
Some industry players argued that South Africans will find more value in these tests if it showed performance in areas where most citizens are using mobile services.
Icasa responded, saying that as far as it is concerned the result and data for all other areas are correct and accurate.
“Only a single leg of a single area (Worcester in the Western Cape) results were not completely correct due to faulty equipment at the time of testing,” said Icasa.
Icasa said it has embarked on a project to update its testing software with the latest drive test software and hardware.
“Icasa has already retested that particular area and will publish an erratum with the new results early next week. The Authority has also replaced the hardware for its drive test equipment when doing the retest. All further testing was done using new equipment as well,” the regulator said.
Looking at route selection, Icasa said it is done independently and without the knowledge of the operators.
“We aim to select areas where there has been queries and complaints in the past, as well as high use areas,” the regulator said.
“Hence our route selection is based on the roads used by most South Africans. In any case, the licensees also have an obligation to provide an acceptable level of service in all coverage areas.”