MediaTek Chips Allegedly Slow Down LTE Connections In India

Chinese smartphone vendor Xiaomi has denied that any of its smartphones in India suffer from a network quality issue recently detailed by the Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI). In a letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the industry lobby recently alleged that the MediaTek chipsets used by some smartphone vendors are to be blamed for degrading cellular network connections on some LTE-enabled dual-SIM devices in India. According to the COAI, "placing a SIM (which has only 4G LTE capability) in the number 2 slot (2G-only) significantly deteriorates the throughput of any other operator’s 4G SIM present in the main slot, by as much as 40 per cent”. The devices that were tested reportedly include the Lenovo A7000, Lenovo K4 Note, Moto G4, Redmi 3S, Redmi Note 3, OPPO A35 and Galaxy J7.

While TRAI is yet to officially respond to the complaint, the regulator has apparently ‘informally’ asked the COAI to furnish further details regarding its claims. In a statement released to the press earlier today, Xiaomi said that none of its devices in India should be affected by the network degradation issue because all its smartphones in the country ship with Qualcomm chips, while the COAI complaint specifically refers to MediaTek SoCs as the source of the problem. It is worth noting here that Xiaomi is legally barred from selling MediaTek-powered devices in the country because of an ongoing dispute with Ericsson over intellectual property rights. The company generally ships most of its Redmi-branded devices with MediaTek chips in China, but those same smartphones meant for the Indian market are powered by Qualcomm chips to comply with Indian IP (Intellectual Property) regulations. Meanwhile, even as Xiaomi already seems to have washed its hands off of the controversy, the other vendors named in the COAI complaint are yet to say anything on the matter.

Luckily for people using the affected handsets, COAI seems to believe that the network degradation problem has more to do with the lack of software optimization than any serious flaw in MediaTek hardware. That being the case, the organization has asked the telecom regulator to issue an order asking the vendors to roll out OTA updates within the next four weeks to fix the bug. In fact, COAI’s letter to the TRAI also urges the regulator to take the alleged under-performing devices off the market in case of non-compliance within the four-week time-frame. MediaTek, on its part, seems to be aware of the issue, and according to reports, has been working to resolve it internally. The company has released a statement saying, "We recently became aware of these reports and it is of the utmost priority to address. We are already working closely with all the telecom operators to ensure any reported issues are resolved".

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Kishalaya Kundu

Senior Staff Writer
I've always been a tech buff and have been building my own PCs since as far back as I can remember. My first computer was a home-built desktop running MS-DOS on which I learnt to program in GW-BASIC and my interests apart from technology include automobiles and sports.