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Telcos Face More Challenges
 
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28-Aug-2013  
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The telecommunications company in the country continues to add on more subscribers to their network without any pragmatic efforts to expand their infrastructure capacity.

The situation, according to some telecom experts, is among the chief reasons why the quality of service (QoS) by the companies continues to suffer. The poor quality of services provided by the telecos is confirmed by the monthly fines imposed on them by the industry regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA).

Second quarter QoS Findings

The latest fines imposed on MTN, was a GH˘100, 000 for defaulting Call Setup Time obligation in Central and Western regions. Tigo was sanctioned with a fine of GH˘50, 000 for defaulting Call Congestion obligation in Central Region.

Glo, which has been struggling to meet its targets, was also slapped with a GH˘200,000 for defaulting Call Setup Time, Call Completion and Signaling Congestion obligations in Central and Western Regions. Airtel was also sanctioned with a fine of GH˘100, 000 for defaulting Call Congestion and Call Setup in Central and Western Regions respectively.

Expresso has been sanctioned to build sites in Kasoa in the Central region and Essikado in Western region for defaulting Call Congestion in both Central and Western Regions. Vodafone, according to the NCA remained compliant to all the license obligations in the month of June. This is however contrary to what customers on the network complain about as far as the QoS of the company is.

Areas assessed for QoS

For the second quarter, the towns used in the assessment were Accra, Tema, Tamale, Yendi, Wa, Jirapa, Nandom, Bolgatanga, Bawku, Aflao Denu, Anloga, Keta, Ho, Hohoe, Kpando, Jasikan, Asamankese, Akim Oda, Akosombo, Suhum, Koforidua, Swedru, Winneba, Cape Coast, Elmina, Takoradi and Tarkwa. The NCA report which is an update of findings on QoS in June 2013 as part of the Authority’s quarterly monitoring, measured; Stand-alone Dedicated Control Channel (SDCCH) Congestion Rate; Call Setup Time (CST); Call Congestion Rate; Call Drop Rate (CDR)

These QoS indicators and their respective threshold for compliance are assessed as part of the Cellular Mobile license obligations. Subscriber numbers While the fines are being imposed, the telecom companies continue to add on, thereby compounding the already bad situation.

The situation gives credence to the fact that the NCA seem to be more interested in the fines and not the consumers who suffer the wrath of the inefficiencies in the telecom systems. For instance, the May figures for mobile voice telephone subscribers recorded a growth of 1.3 per cent to bring the total number of subscribers to 26,927,872. April figures recorded stood at 26,591,124.

MTN’s subscriber base increased from 12,039, 527 in April to 12, 289,991 in the month under review. Vodafone’s subscriber base of 5,672,287 in April increased to 5,728,091 in the month under review, representing 21.27 per cent of the market share.

Tigo’s subscriber base also increased to 3,729,611 for May but its market share decreased by 0.15 per cent. Airtel’s subscriber base which is 12.44 per cent of the total market share represents 3,350,497 subscribers.

GLO’s market share as at the end of May stood at 1,681,417, representing 6.24 per cent while Expresso’s subscriber base of 154,265 for the month of also represents 0.57 per cent of the total market share.

Other challenges

Apart from the abysmal mobile telephony service, the telecom companies are also very guilty of providing very poor data and broadband services. Those using smartphones have often complained, they are often unable to use the internet on their phones because the data services are extremely poor. The signals continue to drop, making it difficult to access the internet or use social media such as WhatsApp, Tango among others.

In the office, companies relying on broadband services are almost always found wanting because service is extremely poor. It is as if the regulator is not aware of this situation to ensure that the corrective measures are put in place to help ensure that businesses are not disrupted by the poor service.

Raffles and sponsorships

It has become a phenomenon for the telecom companies to run promotions in their quest to draw more customers to their fold. A very small fraction of their subscribers benefit from the promotions. It is expected that while they do so to increase their subscriber market share, they will use the profits to invest in network expansion to accommodate the large numbers. It is evident that the telecom companies or the telecommunications sector is the only sector with the lowest inflation.

This is because none of them has increased the call tariffs over many years unlike the other sectors. It is clear that, such a situation might impact their profits margins but this has been the case because of the nature of the competition within the sector. As to what makes them survive remains not too much a misery but it is the phenomenon worldwide.

The sector is also saddled with a lot of taxes on their services because the government seems to have found it an easy target to slap taxes, particularly at this time when the economy is retrogressing.

Conclusions

As per the telecom regulations, NCA has the power to withdraw the operational license of players in the industry that persistently provide poor QoS to their customers. It, therefore, sounds weird why the NCA has not been able to crack that whip to send the right message that customers cannot be taken for granted all the time. On many occasions, the telecom companies have told the media that they are spending millions of dollars on their infrastructure expansion yet nothing is seen.

The telecom companies have blamed the poor services on fibre cuts and the recent energy challenges, all of which have drastically abated. It is therefore, surprising why the services have gone from bad to worse in recent times. The NCA must crack the whip to prove a point and allow the customers to enjoy the kind of services they pay for.

On the other hand, there is the need for the government to stop milking the telcos through taxes. This is because the government and its agencies cannot task them to improve their services through infrastructure expansion while they slap them with many taxes, some of which are not justifiable.
 
 
 
Source: Graphic Business
 
 

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