29 Nov 2013

TRAI Releases Recommendations on Telecom Network Failures During Emergencies/Disasters – Priority Routing of Calls of Persons Engaged in ‘Response and Recovery’

Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued itsrecommendations on Telecom network failures during Emergencies/Disasters – Priority routing of calls of persons engaged in ‘response and recovery’.

In the past, a significant rise in telecom traffic has been observed during disasters/emergencies which results in network congestion. Such congestion can seriously hamper the emergency responders’ ability to communicate and coordinate and thus can seriously impair the official response to the disaster/emergency.

To devise a system that can facilitate communication amongst those responsible for the priority to such emergencies during network congestion by giving priority to their calls, TRAI issued a consultation paper on the above subject.  Subsequently, TRAI held an Open House Discussion (OHD) with all stakeholders. This was followed by a seminar that was by COAI, BSNL and AUSPI under the aegis of TRAI to discuss the technical issues involved in implementation of priority call routing in India.Based on the comments and inputs received from the stakeholders during the consultation process and its own analysis, the Authority has suo motu finalised its recommendations on “Telecom network failures during Emergencies/Disasters – Priority routing of calls of persons engaged in ‘response and recovery’.” The Salient features of the recommendations are given below:

  • A Priority Call Routing (PCR) scheme should be instituted to ensure that calls of personnel responsible for ‘response and recovery’ during disasters are routed on priority.
  • Enhanced Multi-Level Precedence & Pre-emption (eMLPP) based priority call routing (PCR) should be implemented in wireless networks in India along with the right to pre-empt ongoing calls, if needed. The use of call pre-emption feature of eMLPP may be reviewed subsequently, based on the performance of the PCR scheme during emergencies.
  • Government should fund the PCR scheme through budgetary allocation/support and should oversee its implementation. The operational expenses for the PCR scheme should be borne by the National Disaster Relief Funds (NDRF)/SDRF.
  • In order to determine the costs involved in implementation of PCR in India, a pilot project has been suggested in the recommendations. A Steering Committee comprising senior officers from TRAI, Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), Department of Telecommunications (DoT), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) may steer the pilot. The same committee will also suggest the service delivery model. The issue of charging for PCR services will be decided by TRAI after getting the data on cost incurred for providing the service.
  • To ensure that the emergency responders have access to whichever network is available, the Authority has recommended that it should be mandatory for all service providers offering priority services to enter into intra-circle roaming arrangement. The Authority has also recommended that a Standing Committee, under the Union Home Secretary, comprising senior officers from DoT, TRAI, NDMA, TEC, and representatives from industry should be formed.  This Committee will be responsible for overseeing the policy with respect to Emergency Telecommunications in India.
The recommendations have been placed on TRAI’s website www.trai.gov.in  

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